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Travel Checklist

Before packing.

  • 3.4 ounces or less per container
  • 1 quart size, clear, plastic, zip top bag (all liquids must fit in bag)
  • 1 bag per passenger
  •   Review the prohibited items list for both carry-on and checked baggage.
  • If purchasing a baggage lock, be sure to look for those that are TSA recognized.
  • Tape a card with your name and contact information on your electronics.

When Packing

  • Pack items in layers (shoes one layer, clothes one layer, electronics one layer, etc.)
  • Firearms are only allowed in checked baggage and must be unloaded, placed in a locked, hard-sided container and declared to your airline.
  • All fireworks contain explosive materials and are not permitted in checked or carry-on baggage.
  • Do not pack items such as box cutters, utility knives, and razors in carry-on luggage. Razor blades intended for shaving that are enclosed in a safety cartridge in which the blade cannot be removed are permitted.
  • Pack large electronics on top layer of carry-on for screening accessibility.
  • Place your 3-1-1 bag with liquids, gels and aerosols in the front pocket of your carry-on for accessibility.
  • If traveling with a pet, be sure to bring a leash so carriers can be properly screened.

Before Leaving for the Airport

  • Give yourself enough time to arrive at the airport early.
  • Wear easily removable shoes.
  • Passengers with a disability or medical condition may call ahead to the TSA Cares toll free helpline at (855) 787-2227 .

Before Entering the Checkpoint

  • Eligible passengers look for the TSA PreCheck® lane for expedited screening at participating airports.
  • Have your  ID and boarding pass out for inspection.

In Standard Screening Lane

  • Remove the 3-1-1 liquids bag and place it in the bin.
  • Ensure pockets are empty (keys, tissues, currency, wallets, cell phones, etc.) and remove bulky jewelry (valuable items can be placed in carry-on).
  • Remove your shoes and place them directly on the X-ray belt.
  • Remove personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone from your carry-on bag and place them into a bin with nothing placed on or under them for X-ray screening. (E.g. laptops, tablets, e-readers and handheld game consoles.)
  • Remember to check the bins and collect all belongings after going through screening.

Download PDF version

Protect Your Trip »

27 things you should always pack in your carry-on bag.

Create your packing list of essentials and new in-flight finds.

What to Pack in a Carry-on Bag

plane travel list

Packing your carry-on bag for a flight is exciting – but it can also be overwhelming. With a little planning and a concise list of airport and in-flight essentials, you can maximize space and be prepared for your journey.

To help you decide what to pack in your carry-on bag, our team compiled this list of must-have items. Download the packing list here to use while you prep for your next trip, then read on to learn more about what to pack.

Carry-on packing list

Travel wallet, passport holder, toiletry bag, tsa-approved liquids bag and compliant containers, prescription medications, glasses case, travel pillow, packing cubes, tech organizer, luggage tracker, zippered pouches and reusable silicone bags, mini clip bag, hand sanitizer, bluetooth wireless adapter, wired earbuds or headphones, e-reader or a great book, travel adapter/converter, travel first-aid kit, reusable water bottle, activities or games, light jacket, change of clothing.

Protect your credit cards and cash with an RFID wallet like the Travelon RFID Blocking Single Zip Wallet , which prevents scammers from wirelessly stealing your personal information. This travel wallet is especially useful since it can also hold most smartphones.

If you're traveling internationally, an option like the TIGARI Passport Holder can protect your travel document and make it easy to locate in your carry-on bag. You'll need access to your passport at airport security, when you board the plane and when you're filling out entry forms, so keep the passport holder as well as a pen within reach. Once you arrive at your destination, put the passport wallet somewhere safe at your lodging or – if you feel inclined to keep it with you – stow it in your travel purse, belt bag or backpack to ensure it's safe while you explore.

Young woman showing cosmetics permitted in carry-on baggage. Close up of hands.

Getty Images

Pack your toiletry bag in your carry-on so you can easily freshen up and so that you'll have essentials like toothpaste and deodorant in the event your checked luggage is lost in transit. Also consider packing toiletries that are useful for travel (particularly the dry air on planes), even if they're not part of your daily routine at home.

U.S. News senior travel editor Marisa Méndez recommends including a facial moisturizer and a body lotion in your toiletry bag. "My skin always dries out on flights and it's nice to have something to soothe my skin," she says.

"I always love having facial spray to freshen up after the flight," says Elizabeth Von Tersch , also a senior travel editor at U.S. News. She always keeps one in her purse. " Mario Badescu and Evian are great." These facial sprays help to moisturize your skin after the drying environment on a plane or give you a little midday pick-me-up.

When packing your carry-on bag for a flight, you'll want to have a clear quart-sized bag that meets Transportation Security Administration guidelines for liquids and gels. Some Dopp kits or toiletry bags include a removable bag for travel-size liquids, or you can buy this reusable TSA-approved clear bag on Amazon . Put any liquids or gels you're traveling with in this bag, including shampoo, lotion, liquid makeup items and hand sanitizer.

Keep in mind that all liquids and gels must be in travel-size bottles or containers measuring 3.4 ounces or less. Remember: You'll need to remove this clear quart-sized bag from your carry-on bag at security, so consider packing it in an external pocket or an easy-to-find spot in your carry-on suitcase. To learn more about TSA regulations, consult our article about what is allowed in a carry-on .

Never stow prescription medications in checked baggage : If luggage is lost or delayed, replacing these medications while traveling can be extremely challenging or even impossible. If you take multiple medications, consider a travel pill sorter like the EZY Dose Pill Organizer , available for about $5 on Amazon.

Whether you wear glasses for vision correction or you're packing your favorite pair of sunglasses, keeping them protected while stowed in your carry-on is essential. If you're bringing multiple pairs, a case like the foldable Dagne Dover Remi Glasses Case can hold up to three pairs, or the Lug Eyeglass Holder & Mini Pill Case works well for eyeglasses and contacts.

Woman using red Cabeau Evolution S3 Travel Pillow in window seat of plane.

Courtesy of Cabeau

Resting throughout your journey can help you feel refreshed when you reach your destination and make the time pass a little quicker. But nothing can (literally) cramp your style like a stiff neck from sleeping wrong. Choose a comfortable neck pillow for travel like the top-rated Cabeau Evolution S3 or the MLVOC Travel Pillow (less than $30 on Amazon). For a travel pillow that doubles as a packing cube, consider the Tube pillow , which holds up to three days' worth of clothing.

Packing cubes aren't just for organizing clothing and shoes. Maximize space in your carry-on bag with these handy travel compartments . While Eagle Creek's PACK-IT line features the top-rated compression packing cubes on the market, many travelers also swear by the Veken Packing Cubes , which are usually available for $20 or less on Amazon. To maximize space even more, consider Lug's compression packing cubes .

If you're planning to travel with jewelry, watches or items that would be difficult to replace, be sure to put these in your carry-on bag, as checked items run the risk of being misplaced. For jewelry, a compact case that is easy to spot like the Lug Mini Swizzle is ideal for rings, cufflinks or earrings.

It's easy to let your charging cords get lost at the bottom of your bag or get your headphones tangled somewhere in your tote. A handy tech organizer such as the CALPAK Tech Organizer or the BAGSMART Tech Organizer , with zippered compartments and sections for specific cords, can help reduce tangled messes (and the need for you to search for your essentials in a tight airplane cabin).

Even though you'll have your carry-on bag with you, it's still a good idea to have a luggage tracker like an Apple AirTag or a Tile Pro securely attached to your bag. In the event you and your bag get separated, you'll be able to track down where you parted ways (because when you're jet-lagged it's easy to be a bit absent-minded).

Smaller than packing cubes, zippered pouches and silicone bags like the Stasher Silicone Reusable Storage Bags are perfect for storing everything from snacks to scrunchies. If traveling with family, consider different colored pouches for each traveler's items so you can easily tell them apart without removing everything from the bag.

Get a handy little bag with a carabiner clip, such as the CALPAK Luka Key Pouch , to securely attach to the outside of your bag for quick-grab items like gum, hand sanitizer or individual travel wipes . Once you're at your destination, you can clip it on a belt loop or use the elastic band to slide it on your wrist for your room key, lip gloss and other small essentials.

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Woman using hand sanitizer on plane.

Let's face it – traveling can introduce your body to a host of unwanted germs. Carrying a bottle of travel hand sanitizer will keep your hands clean on the go, even if there's not a bathroom nearby. To disinfect surfaces like airplane tray tables, arm rests or tables, consider having a pack of disinfecting wipes at your disposal as well.

During a flight, the low humidity and high altitude can have a drying effect on your skin and lips. To combat the dry air, consider packing a hydrating lip balm like this new stick option by Aquaphor . What's more, if you choose a balm over a liquid moisturizer, you won't need to store this product in your clear TSA-approved liquids bag.

In-flight entertainment can help your travel day go faster, but being tethered to the seatback with wired headphones can feel a bit constricting. Plus, you may have to unplug to let your seat mates in or out. Avoid those troubles and connect your wireless headphones to the in-flight system with Twelve South's AirFly ($35 or less on Amazon), which wirelessly transmits audio via Bluetooth.

If you'd prefer to connect directly to the in-flight entertainment to watch a movie (or maybe just tune out your seatmates), buy some inexpensive wired earbuds like this well-rated set by Jogteg . You can keep them in your carry-on so you're always ready, even on flights where they don't pass out complimentary headsets.

Having a book or magazine in your carry-on bag is always a good idea. Whether you encounter a delayed flight, a long layover or a plane with less than stellar in-flight entertainment, a good book will help pass the time.

On everything from red-eye flights to international jaunts, a good eye mask can block out light from overhead, the seatback screens and plane windows. The Nodpod Sleep Mask is especially relaxing since it's weighted.

"Even if you plan to grab a bite at the airport or on the plane (if that's an option), pack some snacks," says Amanda Norcross , content and SEO strategist for travel at U.S. News. "Flying is unpredictable and stressful for many travelers, and 'hanger' only makes things worse." Trail mix, granola bars, crackers, pretzels, dried fruit and popcorn are some good snack options you may want to throw in your carry-on. Also put chewing gum in your carry-on to freshen breath and help with ear popping.

It's not always easy to find a charging station at the airport, and there are restrictions when it comes to packing batteries in your carry-on baggage for any flight. One option that meets Federal Aviation Administration guidelines is the Anker 537 Power Bank (PowerCore 26K for Laptop) . This device can charge a laptop, smartphone or tablet quickly, to keep your devices running even on a long flight.

A hand holding a travel adapter.

For international travel – since different countries use different plug shapes – packing a universal adapter or converter will enable you to charge your devices and other electronics. Before purchasing, consider what your needs will be, especially regarding the shape of the wall outlet plugs and the voltage of the countries you'll be visiting.

A travel adapter such as the EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter on Amazon makes plugs from the U.S. fit into electrical outlets around the world, whereas a travel converter like the ALLWEI International Travel Adapter converts the electricity voltage. If you're traveling overseas from the U.S., you'll need both of these devices to use electronics like laptops, curling irons and hair straighteners (unless your device is dual voltage, like the BaBylissPRO Nano Mini Straightening Iron ).

For minor injuries like blisters from new shoes or unexpected cuts and scrapes, pack a first-aid kit with Band-Aids and triple antibiotic ointment like Neosporin in your bag.

Woman opening a reusable water bottle on a plane.

Staying hydrated while traveling is a must. Pack a reusable water bottle like the Corkcicle Canteen Triple Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle to fill up at the airport before your flight and refill throughout your travels. Even better – an insulated bottle will stay cold for hours.

Whether it's a long flight or layover (or maybe you just need a good distraction), having some activities like a miniature coloring book and mini colored pencils or small packable games can be really useful.

"I took a small coloring book and a small set of pencils on a flight once and it was life-changing," Méndez says. U.S. News senior digital producer for travel Leilani Osmundson says she and her husband love to bring a deck of cards and portable two-player games to pass the time.

"I typically wear a lightweight jacket on the plane to free up space in my carry-on," says Norcross. "If the plane is too warm, I can easily stuff it under the seat in front of me with my backpack." If you're in need of a simple yet effective packable jacket , check out the Amazon Essentials Puffer Jacket .

Whether your coffee spills off your tray table or you lose your checked baggage, an extra outfit is handy to have. Pack a versatile outfit (including socks and underwear) into your carry-on bag so you have a backup option, or perhaps have your swimwear and flip-flops ready to head directly to the beach the moment you arrive. For tired or swollen feet, having a pair of compression socks and a change of walking shoes can make your travel day much more comfortable.

What not to pack in a carry-on bag

When packing a carry-on bag or suitcase, it's important to note that some items are prohibited on all flights, due to Federal Aviation Administration regulations. The prohibited list includes aerosol products (such as anti-static spray or pepper spray), lithium or lithium-ion batteries, firearms and ammunition, flammables, and explosives. For more details on what you can and can't pack in your carry-on, visit the TSA's What Can I Bring? and the FAA's Pack Safe websites.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Rachael Hood loves to see how much she can fit in her carry-on bag. She always brings a few snacks, a good read and little luxuries to make the journey comfortable. Hood used her personal travel experience, along with her retail background and research expertise, to curate this list.

You might also be interested in:

  • Can I Use My Own Airplane Seat Belt Extender?
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  • What to Do If Your Flight Is Canceled
  • The Best Travel Insurance Companies

Tags: Travel , Travel Gear

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The Essential Carry-On Bag Packing List

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Christine Sarkis

There's a 95 percent chance Senior Editor Christine Sarkis is thinking about travel right now. Follow her on Instagram @postcartography and Twitter @ChristineSarkis .

Christine Sarkis is an SATW-award-winning journalist and executive editor at SmarterTravel. Her stories have also appeared on USA Today, Conde Nast Traveler, Huffington Post, and Business Insider. Her advice has been featured in dozens of print and online publications including The New York Times , Conde Nast Traveler , and People magazine. She has also shared travel tips on television and radio shows including Good Morning America, Marketplace, and Here & Now. Her work has been published in the anthologies Spain from a Backpack and The Best Women's Travel Writing 2008 . She is currently working on a travel memoir.

The Handy Item I Always Pack : The Trtl Pillow . It's easy to pack and comfortable, and makes it so I can actually sleep on flights.

Ultimate Bucket List Experience : Seeing the Aurora Borealis from the comfort of somewhere warm, like a glass igloo or hot spring.

Travel Motto : Curiosity is an amazing compass.

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat : Aisle all the way.

Email Christine Sarkis at [email protected] .

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Need a little help packing light? With SmarterTravel’s new carry-on bag packing list, you can stick to what’s essential for your trip, no matter where you’re headed.

Don’t need an umbrella since you’re headed to Palm Springs? Not bringing contact solution because your vision is 20/20? Customize the list by crossing off items you don’t need and adding any additional items in the “more items” boxes.

Don’t miss our downloadable, editable carry-on packing checklist below .

plane travel list

Shop Our Carry-on Essentials List

Clothes and Shoes

  • Socks/stockings
  • Undershirts
  • Dress Shirt
  • Casual Shirts
  • Sweatshirts
  • Leisure Shoes
  • Hiking Shoes
  • Athletic Shoes
  • Dress Shoes
  • Sandals/flip-flops
  • Small Purse
  • Collapsible Tote

While packing light is great, there are still a few essentials you need to make sure make it into your bag—think underwear , socks , pajamas , shirts , and pants . From there, you can get more specific based on your destination. Heading to the beach? Throw in a swimsuit . Vacationing somewhere colder? Gloves , hats , and scarves are a must. Keep in mind that clothing can take up a lot of space—if you’re planning on packing in only a carry-on, try wearing some of your bulkier items to free up precious room in your luggage.

Shop Our Clothing Packing List

10 Ultralight Rolling Carry-On Bags Under 6 Pounds

  • Dental Floss
  • Conditioner
  • Hairstyling Appliances
  • Facial Cleanser
  • Face Lotion
  • Moisturizer
  • Contact Lenses
  • Contact Solution
  • Shaving Supplies
  • Makeup Remover
  • Period Products
  • Birth Control
  • Nail Clippers
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • First-Aid Ointment
  • Insect Repellent
  • Medications
  • Pain Relievers

Toiletries are another necessity of travel to keep you feeling fresh. You can find the standards— toothpaste , shampoo , conditioner , deodorant —all available in TSA-approved travel-sized containers. Liquids should be in containers no larger than 3.4 ounces and fit into a clear, quart-size, zip-top plastic bag. To learn more about TSA rules, see  Airport Security Frequently Asked Questions .

Once you have the basics packed, think about your individual routine. Don’t forget things like contact solution , period products , and daily medications. Curating your carry-on toiletry bag down to only essentials will help save space. Your one-in-a-million, go-to cleanser you can’t live without? Definitely throw it in your bag. Your extensive collection of handmade shower melts ? Maybe save them for home.

Shop Our Toiletries Packing List

What Do I Need in My Travel First Aid Kit?

Carry-on Essentials

  • Passport / Visa
  • Copies of Important Documents
  • Identification
  • Maps / Directions
  • Boarding Pass / Tickets
  • Medical Insurance Card
  • Travel Insurance Cards
  • Electronics Chargers
  • Voltage Adapters
  • List of Medications
  • Memory Cards
  • Credit / ATM Cards
  • Credit Card Company Information
  • Emergency Contacts

Whether or not you’re checking additional luggage, there are a few items you should always keep with you. Important travel documents like your passport , ID, boarding pass, insurance cards, credit cards , and copy of your COVID-19 vaccination card should always stay with you in your personal item. Pricey items like cameras , SD cards , and laptops as well as items you may want to have on-hand at your destination like umbrellas , a guidebook , and your itinerary should be stowed safely in your carry-on. 

How to Pack in Just a Personal Item Sized Bag

Don't Forget

  • Chewing Gum
  • Reading Materials
  • Stain Remover
  • Lint Roller

Finally, don’t forget to pack items to pass time on the plane. Items like headphones , books , and magazines will keep you entertained for however many hours you’re in the air. Make sure to load up your device with podcasts , music , and audiobooks pre-flight while you’re still connected to reliable wi-fi. Other essentials like ear plugs , sleep masks , and travel pillows make sure you’re able to arrive at your destination well-rested.

Download Our Editable Carry-On Packing List

Never be without your noise-cancelling headphones or a spare set of clothes again with our downloadable checklist .

Download Here

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2010. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

All of the products featured in this story were hand-selected by our travel editors. Some of the links featured in this story are affiliate links, and SmarterTravel may collect a commission (at no cost to you) if you shop through them.

Carol McPherson contributed to this story.

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Carry-on Travel Essentials for Short and Long Flights (His & Hers)

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Erin Miller

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Carry-on Travel Essentials for Short and Long Flights (His & Hers)

Carry-on Travel Essentials for Him

Carry-on Travel Essentials (For Her)

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At Upgraded Points, we believe a well-packed carry-on bag is key to flying in (relative) comfort. Whether you’re on a quick 45-minute hop or a daunting 9-hour long haul, your essentials are what keep you covered.

That’s why we’ve compiled a “His & Hers” list of some great products we simply can’t do without. From personal comfort items to snacks and hydration, read on to find out what tops our lists!

P.S. If you want a complete travel packing checklist for your trip, or you’re interested in tips and tricks for packing your suitcase, we’ve published a post on that too!

Carry on Travel Essentials Him

1. Alex can’t go anywhere without his Sleep Master Sleep Mask . Silky smooth, cool, and DARK with velcro closure … just sit back, relax, and you’ll be snoozing before you know it.

2. Engine noise? Crying babies? Obnoxious neighbor? These Bose QuietComfort 45 Noise Canceling Headphones won’t let you down. The rest of the world literally just fades away so you can enjoy your movie or music in peace.

3. The Sfee Insulated Water Bottle  is double-walled, stainless steel, leak-proof, and sleek as heck. We all know it’s important to stay hydrated while flying, and this bottle will keep your drink cold for hours.

4. Why pay for onboard snacks when you can bring your own? Oberto Turkey Jerky has your back! The flavor is great, there are no artificial ingredients, and it packs a punch at 11g of protein per serving.

5. Of course, no carry-on list would be complete without a Kindle . Don’t forget to pre-load it with your favorite books before you fly!

6.  Shout Wipes are a must. No one wants to travel with a great big stain down the front of their shirt! (We won’t mention which UP staff member wins the award for most spills …)

7. The Evolution Neck Pillow  might just be the best out there. It’s made of plush memory foam, has a snap in front with drawstrings to provide just the right support, holds your phone, and rolls up into a small handheld pouch to save space. Of all the travel pillows Alex has tried, he’s had the best sleep with this one. We both really love this thing!

8. Tired of looking tired when you hop off a flight? This GinZing Eye Cream from Origins combines coffee beans, ginseng, and magnolia extract to reduce dark circles, banish bags, and curb puffiness. It’s seriously refreshing – we’re amazed every time.

9. It’s easy to get dehydrated on a flight. Keep your lips from getting chapped with this soothing Lip Balm from Jack Black . It’s the more subtle stick form of Jack Black’s minty gloss, so you don’t have to worry about it adding a shine.

10. Speaking of minty, these Colgate Wisp mini brushes will freshen your mouth right up after those onboard peanuts.

11. A mess of cords at the bottom of your bag is so unhelpful. This cord/travel organizer by BUMB  will help you keep everything tidy and in good working order.

12. An extra pair of socks is never a bad idea, especially when they’re these Merino Wool Bombas . With a honeycomb support system, stay-up technology, warm/cool temp variation, and an invisible toe seam, these are the best! Plus, you can feel good about buying them: Bombas donates one pair of socks for every pair sold.

13. There’s nothing we hate more than waiting behind someone who can’t get their mobile ticket to scan at security/the gate, so we travel old-school: we always print our boarding passes. That’s where this Royce Leather Ticket & Passport Holder comes in. Plus, it’s made of top-grain genuine leather … so, there’s that.

14. The second snack we can’t do without is a  Power Crunch protein bar . Most protein bars are like a brick: thick and tough to chew. But this light, crunchy treat is pretty much the healthy, protein-filled equivalent of a Little Debbie Nutty Bar. They’re just so good!

Carry-on Travel Essentials for Her

1. How sassy is this Sleepy Cottage Eye Mask ? You certainly don’t have to sacrifice style to grab some much-needed shut-eye on your next flight. If you’d rather snooze a bit more low-key, try the Sleep Master Sleep Mask . It’s silky smooth, cool, and keeps things dark.

2. The Evolution Neck Pillow  is a definite must-have. Its plush outer covering surrounds a memory-foam core, and the snap closure at the front (with drawstrings) allows for adjustable support. Plus, there’s also a side pocket to hold your phone. What you can’t see here is that the pillow rolls up and fits in a small travel pouch to save space (a total win!). Like Alex, this has been my favorite pillow for getting some sleep during long flights.

3. We all know staying hydrated is a must on flights. Good thing S’well makes a line of  swoon-worthy water bottles with all sorts of great qualities. Think triple-walled, eco-friendly, and stainless steel. Not only do they come in an array of great colors and patterns, but they’re built to keep your drink cold for 24 hours (or hot for 12).

4. When you’re pressed for space, e-books come in so very handy. That’s why the Amazon Kindle makes it onto almost every travel blogger’s packing list. Just don’t forget to load your books before you fly!

5. Flying can leave your face feeling so “blah.” We love these Simple Face Wipes because there are no harsh chemicals, no artificial perfumes or dyes, and they’re enriched with lots of good vitamins to keep your skin hydrated. Plus, they even make a 7-count pack just for traveling.

6. Speaking of hydration, lip balm is a MUST for our carry-on bags. We’re loving this EOS balm in Sweet Mint with shea butter and jojoba oil. It’s 100% natural, 95% organic, and packed with tons of vitamins to keep your lips quenched for the long haul.

7. Need to freshen up after a long overnight flight? Use these Colgate Wisp mini brushes when gum or mints just won’t do. The freshening bead dissolves in your mouth, so there’s technically no water or rinsing needed.

8. We love having a separate wallet for travel since we’re often carrying different cards or other items during our trips. MochiThings’ Pop Clutch is a great little travel wallet to keep your ID, passport, tickets, and funds all in one place. Snaps allow for a pop-open functionality and it comes in a number of nice colors.

9. Let’s face it, lots of noisy things can make a flight especially awful … or maybe you just can’t hear your movie over the engine. No matter the reason you need some peace, these Bose QuietComfort Acoustic Earbuds will do the trick with their noise-canceling capability. Plus, they’re low profile vs. larger headphones, which helps save space in your bag.

10. When flying, it’s always smart to bring an extra layer in case things get chilly. This gorgeous wool and cashmere pashmina from Norstrom is a fantastic choice for a number of reasons. It can be worn as a scarf or shawl, or (at 75 x 29 inches) can even masquerade as a small blanket. Alternatively, its tissue-weight design makes it easy to fold right up and place in your carry-on like it’s nothing.

11. Every traveler needs a good journal on hand to document their worldly adventures!  We suggest the gorgeous line from Rifle Paper Co . With their soft linen covers and Smyth-sewn binding for durability, the quality is just right (and the size fits nicely too!).

12. No carry-on list is complete without a cozy pair of socks.   Your new favorite? Bombas. Made from extra-long staple cotton with a honeycomb support system, stay-up technology, and an invisible toe seam, these socks are super soft and perfect for your next flight. Plus, Bombas donates one pair of socks for every pair sold – we think that’s pretty great.

13. Flights don’t just leave you feeling tired, they can leave you looking tired too. Well, not anymore! Origins GinZing Eye Cream  is made with coffee beans, ginseng, magnolia extract, and natural brighteners to perk up those peepers. Whether it’s dark circles, puffiness, or bags – this eye cream is up for the battle and you’re coming out on top.

14. Why pay for overpriced food on your flight when you can bring your own? Power Crunch protein bars are our #1 must-have snack. Forget heavy, chewy bars and opt for this light, flakey, triple chocolate goodness instead. At 13g protein, 10g carbs, and 4g of sugar, you really can’t beat it!

Why suffer through your flight chilly, hungry, thirsty, bored, etc. when your carry-on could pack solutions? Picking a few favorite products that you consistently travel with can definitely upgrade your flight experience – they’ve certainly made ours more tolerable!

Do you have a favorite travel essential we missed out on? Let us know in the comments below.

Have you checked out our piece on the best gifts for travelers ? If not, head on over and let us know what you think!

Lastly, if you’re looking to add more “best of the best” travel products to your inventory, we’ve got some great recommendations for you: All Our Best Travel Product Reviews – In One Place .

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the must have carry-on essentials.

We recommend a great neck pillow and eye shade, a pair of noise-canceling headphones, a great water bottle, compression socks, and a kindle!

What should you not forget in a carry-on?

If you’re flying overnight, you’ll definitely want to remember your eye shade and noise-cancelling headphones or ear plugs to get a good night’s sleep. If you’re traveling through the day, you’ll want to prioritize snacks and entertainment.

How do I carry essentials on a plane?

Most airlines allow you to bring at least 1 personal item into the cabin, with some allowing a separate carry-on. You can pack essentials such as electronics, ear plugs, an eye shade, neck pillow, and toiletries in your personal item or carry-on. Just make sure any liquids are less than 3.4 ounces and fit into single, 1-quart clear plastic bag.

What are 5 carry-on essentials for travelers who love to pack light?

Our 5 carry-on essentials would be noise-canceling headphones, a snack, a tooth brush, an eye mask, and a Kindle.

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An experienced points hacker, Erin is Alex’s partner-in-crime and contributes to Upgraded Points with in-depth guides and relationship management. Erin’s work has been cited in multiple major publications.


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The Five Foot Traveler

The Five Foot Traveler

Reaching new heights, 137 travel essentials: a comprehensive packing list.

by Sarah Gallo | Aug 15, 2019 | Resources | 2 comments

You’ve decided that you wanted to travel somewhere new, so you booked a flight, secured your hotels, and told all of your friends. You eagerly search Instagram for the must-see spots and, before you know it, you leave in a few weeks! Now, I never recommend saving packing for the last minute, but it’s silly to start gathering your travel essentials few months out too. 

This article is meant to serve as a guideline for the most efficient ways to go about packing your travel essentials. Coming from someone who has visited over 100 countries, it’s safe to say that I’ve done enough trial and error for all of you! In this article you will find the most useful carry on essentials, packing and clothing essentials, outdoor essentials, fitness “on the go” essentials, reading essentials, and business management essentials.

girl taking a selfie with a chimp

Chimp trekking in Uganda with travel essentials on hand

Now, here’s the thing: this list of travel essentials covers just about everything, so try not to get overwhelmed. No matter your age, no matter your type of travel, this comprehensive list should be used as a guideline to decide what you need to pack depending on your trip. For instance, you certainly won’t pack the same things for a luxury cruise through the Caribbean , an RV trip through New Zealand , or a road trip through South Africa . Of course, it should go without saying, but if you’re going to places like Antarctica or the Arctic, you will certainly need to include gear for extremities, and a packing list is almost always provided. 

Please note: This page contains affiliate links, meaning that The Five Foot Traveler may receive a small commission when you purchase any travel essentials using the links in this article at no extra cost to you. I appreciate your continued support!

I personally use and own everything that I recommend below. 

Before you begin packing, please make sure you go through this checklist of absolute, no questions asked travel essentials:

  • Is your Passport valid for six months after you depart your destination and for the duration of your trip?
  • Have you checked to see if you have all of the necessary visas for where you’re visiting?
  • Have you purchased a comprehensive travel insurance plan ?

Hopefully you’ve answered YES to the above questions, so let’s dive in. First thing’s first, I always recommend having a staging area for your travel essentials well before you pack. For me, it’s the loveseat in my bedroom, but anywhere will do (although I do suggest keeping it out of reach from messy children or pets). Here, you can organize the travel goodies you’ve purchased and start organizing your piles of clothes and toiletries. I find this useful because I usually want to use the things I need to pack, so I’m not a big fan of throwing everything into a suitcase two weeks prior to departure.

And speaking of suitcases, decide early on the way you’d like to travel. Are you going on a luxury European vacation? Trekking through the Himalayas? Relaxing on a beach somewhere? Your luggage should reflect your style of travel. Since I started this travel journey as a backpacker, I initially checked a 55L backpack and used a hiking backpack as my carry on.

backpacking travel essentials

When I first started backpacking these were my travel essentials

Then I started traveling carry on only, where I used a spinner carry on and a hiking backpack as my personal item. Then, finally, when I transitioned into luxury travel and *gasp* needed to pack heels and a variety of dresses, I started checking a 24” spinner and bringing with me a carry on spinner on the plane and a cross body bag as my personal item for under the seat in front of me.

women's travel pants & travel essentials

I've cleaned up a bit over the years though, don't worry!

I’ve loved every backpack, bag, and suitcase that I’ve owned and highly recommend picking and choosing between the following:

Airplane Personal Item

  • Cross-Body Bag:  If you want to look a little more put together, but want easy access to all of your carry on travel essentials, a cross-body bag is a must. If you like to travel with your laptop, make sure you purchase one that has a laptop sleeve too. Of course, it should be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you but roomy enough that you won’t have to dig around in it to find what you want. My Recommendation – Vera Bradley Lighten Up Weekender Travel Bag . This is honestly an absolute must for me, and I bring it everywhere I go.
  • Backpack: Your backpack should be both supportive and spacious. I love that this also can substitute as a hiking day pack. Everything that I pack in my cross-body bag will also fit in my 24L backpack, so it just comes down to personal preference. My Recommendation –  Osprey Sirrus 24 Women’s Hiking Backpack and Osprey Stratos 24 Men’s Hiking Backpack. These both have incredible structure and hip support.

Airplane Carry On Item

  • A Spinner Carry On Suitcase: If you’re questioning whether you should get a suitcase with two wheels or four wheels, always choose the four-wheel spinner. It will make your life easier as you both navigate crowds within the airport and on the busy streets of your destination. Trust me on this, as I converted from a two-wheeler to a four-wheeler and it made a huge difference in the way that I travel. My Recommendation – TravelPro Maxlite 4 21” Hardside Spinner. Hardside here is key. It helps you not to overpack, and it is also more durable for your travels. This is one of the most lightweight hardside carry on suitcases that you’ll find on the market, and it has a built-in TSA-approved lock as well as a limited lifetime warranty.
  • If you’re not carrying on a suitcase, you may be able to carry on both recommended personal items – depending on the airline, size, and weight.

Airplane Checked Item

  • Spinner Checked Suitcase: Again, I highly recommend a spinner four-wheel suitcase over a two-wheel suitcase for the purpose of ease. Personally, I like when my carry on spinner and checked spinner match, which led me back to TravelPro. I like the way that the inside is organized, and it’s helpful that each of their hardside spinners come with a built-in TSA-approved lock. My Recommendation – TravelPro Maxlite 4 25” Spinner and TravelPro Maxlite 5 29” Spinner. Depending on the type of trip you’re taking (and how many shoes haha), you’ll need to decide which size checked luggage works for you. I find it useful to have a 25” and 29” on hand, but 99% of the time I will choose just to bring the 25” Spinner, as I’ve found that’s more than enough for me. If you’d like to purchase the 21”, 25”, and 29” as a set – which is the best bang for your buck – you can do so here.
  • Trekkers Pack: Now, if you’re moving around a lot, camping, trekking, and staying in refugios, then a trekkers pack will certainly be the better option for you. When I first started traveling I used a trekkers pack, and it definitely has its benefits for the active among us! When researching which pack to get, make sure that it’s easily opened from multiple points on the bag, that it has plenty of pockets for your smaller items, and provides you with plenty of support. My Recommendation – Osprey Ariel AG 65 Women’s Backpacking Backpack and Osprey Atmos 65 AG Men’s Backpacking Backpack . I tried on what felt like hundreds of trekkers packs before realizing that these were, hands down, the ideal pack that I was looking for. I have carried quite a bit of weight in mine, and it was always comfortable on the hips and shoulders. Plus, Osprey has an “all mighty guarantee” where they will repair any damage free of charge and, if they can’t fix it, they will replace it at no cost to you. Incredibly, this applies to all of their products, no matter the purchase date. You can read more about it here , if interested. 
  • Rolling Duffle: At the end of the day, some people just love duffle bags (my grandpa is one of them!). They’re a great combination of a duffle bag and rolling suitcase, and you have the ability to carry the bag or roll it, depending on your circumstances. My Recommendation – TravelPro Rolling Duffle Bag with Drop Bottom. This comes in all different colors and sizes, but I recommend the 30”, as it’s plenty roomy without being overwhelming. This rolling duffle is lightweight, yet incredibly durable; it survived a few weeks of safaris in Africa with no problems. It also has many different pockets and separators to keep your bag well-organized. 

To keep your luggage organized as a whole, I couldn’t recommend packing cubes highly enough. I originally didn’t think they had much use, but they’ve changed my life when it comes to packing – whether it’s just for a weekend trip or a year-long journey. They come in all different sizes, and I use a variety of small, medium, and large packing cubes. My Recommendation: I have tested many packing cubes over the years, and I can say – without a doubt – that the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cubes are the absolute best on the market. They are incredibly durable and as lightweight as possible. And look at how nicely they fit into a suitcase!

packing cubes and other travel essentials

How I pack my carry on to include all travel essentials

And always remember: lock all of your luggage with TSA-approved locks if you don’t have a suitcase with built in locks. Both checked luggage, and carry on (yes, this means backpacks too). I’ve tried many different locks over the years, but these are my favorite. I presume you’re like me and don’t want people sifting through your checked bag nor people sneaking into your carry on while you sleep (have you heard the stories of valuables being stolen from airplanes?).

But now that you’ve chosen your luggage, you’re probably wondering what travel essentials are actually necessary to pack….

I’m going to break down my packing list into easy-to-organize categories for you. Just remember to pick and choose what you most need for the trip you’re taking. So, let’s do this!

Carry On Essentials

Documents & Confirmations: These are things that you simply must have on you at all times. DO NOT leave your house without packing these into your personal items, as they are absolute travel essentials. 

Comfort: Unless you travel first class, flights are rarely considered comfortable – and it doesn’t matter if it’s an easy 5-hour flight or a 19-hour flight! Make your life easier by packing these few travel essentials for a bit of extra comfort. There’s no way that I could do an overnight flight even semi-comfortably without these!

girl on airplane with over-the-ear noise cancelling headphones, a sleep mask, and a pillow - travel essentials

Noise Cancelling Headphones, Eye Mask, Pillow – Travel Essentials

  • Blow Up Pillow:  I’ll start by saying that I think I’ve tried every airplane pillow out there, or just about! Since I take so many overnight flights, and we all know how airplane pillows feel, it makes sense to bring your own. I began not to worry about the shape or size — if it helped me sleep, it was a keeper. My Recommendation – Haobaimei Airplane Pillow. I know, I know it looks a bit silly, but I promise you that it’s the best airplane pillow out there. It has allowed me to sleep comfortably in a variety of positions. I’d like to be able to describe it in detail, but you’re better off clicking this link , and scrolling to the “product description” to see all of the reasons why this pillow is a must!
  • Foot Rest: You’re probably thinking, “what?” But yes, airplane footrests are a thing, and quite comfortable. Rather than trying to squeeze your legs under the chair (and slam your shins along the way), you can instead set up your footrest. My Recommendation – Sleepy Ride. I’ve had this footrest for years; it’s incredibly lightweight and folds up tiny. It’s very easy to set up, and you can adjust the height to your preference. 
  • Eye Mask – Eye Masks are a tricky thing. Assuming that it will be over your eyes for hours on end, you need to ensure that it doesn’t press against your eyes, doesn’t let light in, and doesn’t slip off your head. My Recommendation – Manta Sleep Mask. I was drawn in not only by their 100% darkness guaranteed, but also by the fact that you can still open your eyes behind the mask too! The fact that there is zero pressure on your eyes, and that it’s fully customizable to your unique face makes it a must have!
  • Compression Socks:  Compression socks are important to wear while flying, especially if it’s a long-haul flight! They not only increase circulation, but they help prevent blood clots and swelling too. My Recommendation – Alvada Compression Socks for Men & Women. Get them and remember to bring them on your next flight! 
  • Cambridge Mask: I have always traveled with a mask on hand, should I get sick or should there be something going around. Cambridge Masks are amongst the best out there, as their masks meet the N99 standard and protect against almost 100% of pollutants, viruses, and bacteria *if the mask is worn correctly.* Whenever using a mask, make sure that it's snug on your face, avoid touching the front of the mask, and be sure to wash your hands before putting the mask on/taking it off.  My Recommendation –  Cambridge Mask Co.
  • Earplanes: Have you ever struggled with painful ear popping on airplanes? Well I get horrible ear pain whenever I fly… to the point where I cannot fly without them. My Recommendation – EarPlanes Pack of 3. These work fantastically to relieve the pressure in your ears during take off and landing, while muffling some of the noise too. 
  • Reusable Water Bottle:  I always recommend traveling with a water bottle on hand for two reasons. (1) It’s good to have a bottle that the flight attendants can fill up for you so that you’re not stuck to 3 sips of water until the next flight attendant comes back. (2) Having a reusable water bottle can help minimize your plastic waste. My Recommendation – Hydro Flask. The Hydro Flask is a BPA-free stainless steel, slip free water bottle. It comes in a variety of sizes and will keep hot drinks hot for up to six hours and cold drinks cold up to 24 hours. Definitely handy to have while traveling!
  • Sweatshirt or Jacket: Planes (or any type of transportation honestly) can sometimes be unbearably cold! I definitely recommend always having a sweatshirt or jacket on hand, or both, as I doubt anyone wants to be freezing and uncomfortable for hours on end. 
  • Change of Clothes: No one likes a smelly person 😉 But in all honesty, it’s important to have a change of clothes on hand for just in case your luggage gets lost. If you’re going on a beach trip, pack a bathing suit. A hiking trip, pack your spandex. You get the point. 
  • Carabiners – While this may seem a bit random, carabiners are incredibly useful for travel. I use a carabiner to clip my water bottle to my carry on, as well as to clip my pillow and footrest to the seat in front of me too. You don’t need anything fancy, so something like these will do. 

Technology & Valuables: Anything of value should never be checked. Make sure that all technology and valuables (like jewelry & sunglasses) are packed in your carry on and in a locked compartment. Some of these things may be obvious, but I’m still including them if you reference this as your packing list. 

As a content creator, I obviously pack a lot more tech than the average person, but please use the list below as a guideline for what to pack tech-wise according to your needs. Perhaps you’ll even find something new to bring with you on your next trip! 

girl on laptop by the ocean - travel essentials

A typical day with my laptop on the road

  • Smartphone: This is a given these days, but make sure you pack your phone! It’s also incredibly helpful to have some apps downloaded that might help make your travel easier. My favorite is App in the Air 🙂 My Recommendation – iPhone Xs Max. If you’re looking for a new smartphone, I have an iPhone Xs Max 256 GB and absolutely love it. 
  • Noise Cancelling Headphones (and iPod):  Airplanes are noisy. People are noisy. Babies are noisy. Get rid of the noise! My Recommendation – Bose QuietComfort 35 II. These wireless, bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones are honestly a dream. They are the very first thing I pack in my personal item, as I couldn’t do a flight without them! Of course, make sure you have music downloaded on your phone or iPod to listen to as well (and yes, I still use an iPod). 
  • Earbuds: While I’m obsessed with noise cancelling headphones, it’s always a good idea to have a regular pair of earbuds too. They do make noise-cancelling earbuds as well, but those have never felt right to me. My Recommendation – Apple Airpods with Charging Case. These Airpods automatically connect to your device and charge within 15 minutes once you put them back in their case. They’re small, lightweight, and easy to travel with. 
  • Kindle:  I don’t go anywhere without my Kindle. I love that it allows me to travel with as many books as I’d like, without the burden of actually having to lug them around. My Recommendation – Kindle Paperwhite. The flush design is as close to “paper” as it gets and there are no glares (this I can promise, as I always read at the beach in the sun!). It is also waterproof, which is convenient, and pairs with bluetooth headphones as well if you’re an audiobook listener. 
  • Laptop:  Depending on what you do or for how long you’re traveling, you may not need to bring your laptop. My Recommendation – MacBook Air or MacBook Pro 15”. These both have very different uses. For travel, the MacBook Air is significantly easier to travel with. While it’s infinitely lighter though, it doesn’t have the same processing power as the MacBook Pro 15”. If you plan on editing a lot of photos or videos, unfortunately the heavier MacBook Pro 15” should be your go-to. I personally used (and loved) the MacBook Air for years before switching to the MacBook Pro 15”, which is what I use now (for a stronger and faster laptop). 
  • Laptop Case:  Even if your backpack or messenger bag has a laptop sleeve, be sure to have your laptop in its own protective case! My Recommendation – CCPK Laptop Sleeve. This is as basic a laptop sleeve as it gets, but it is snug and will protect your laptop, without adding extra bulk. 
  • External Hard Drive:  If you’re on the road a lot or take excess photos, you’ll certainly want an external hard drive on hand to back everything up! My Recommendation –  LaCie Rugged Mini External Hard Drive. I’ve had multiple LaCie Rugged Hard Drives, and I’ve loved each and every one of them. They’re perfect for any kind of trip, as they’re compact, durable, and water-resistant. And if you’re interested in learning how to better edit your photos, it even comes with a complimentary one-month membership to Adobe! 
  • USB Drive: I can’t even begin to tell you how many times people ask if I can give them a USB drive with photos. It’s an extremely small, very useful thing to have on you if you’re in the content creation space. My Recommendation – SanDisk Cruzer Glide CZ60 USB Drive . I personally recommend the 256 GB, as you’ll never worry about running out of space, but any will do based on your needs. 
  • DSLR Camera: Now this one is tricky one because every person has different travel needs and preferences. I’ve personally traveled with a Canon, Sony, and Panasonic… but it wasn’t until I traveled with an Olympus Camera that I was fully content. My Recommendation – Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. Not only is it the lightest DSLR that I have ever carried around with me, but it’s waterproof and weather-sealed, which makes it ideal for every situation. This is my go-to travel camera these days, and you can read the full review of my Olympus products here.  

girl leans over side of cruise ship to take a photo

Always travel equipped with a good camera!

  • Lenses:  Again, lenses will depend on the type of photo that you’re aiming to get. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II can be purchased with two different lenses, or you can purchase the lenses separately. My Recommendation – M. Zuiko 14-150mm f4-5.6 for your everyday lens and M.Zuiko 7-14mm f2.8 PRO for a wide angle lens. I originally thought I wouldn’t need a wide angle lens, but sure was wrong!
  • GoPro: By now I’m sure you’ve heard that the GoPro is the best action-cam on the market and, guess what, it’s true. Whether you’re running down the beach, zip-lining through the air, or diving with sharks, the GoPro can help perfectly capture the moment. My Recommendation – GoPro Hero 8. The GoPro Hero 8 prides itself on filming in 4K, taking 12 MP still shots, and having the best stabilization on an action camera. This is a must for any adventure traveler! 
  • Memory Cards:  Make sure you purchase high quality memory cards. I always recommend smaller memory card sizes, and a lot of them. If a memory card were to become corrupt, I would hate to lose everyone on a 256 GB memory card! My Recommendation – SanDisk 32 GB Extreme Pro for your camera and the SanDisk 64 GB Micro SD for your GoPro. The Extreme Pro writes quite quickly at 95 mbps and the Micro SD is a Class 10, meaning that it will work great for full HD video playback. Both SD Cards are waterproof, shock proof, and temperature-proof. 
  • Gimbal:  No one likes shaky videos. If you’re shooting with a smartphone or GoPro, a gimbal helps stabilize your videos and keeps them smooth. They’re relatively lightweight and portable, and a necessity if you want to get into video. My Recommendation – DJI Osmo Mobile 2. DJI is an incredible reputable brand and their gimbal is one of the most lightweight on the market. Run, jump, do everything in between, and this gimbal will keep your videos stable. 
  • FitBit: It’s no secret that I’ve always loved my FitBit. I’ve worn one for years, and I love that it provides me with in-depth sleep analytics while also counting my steps, calories, and distance walked for the day. My Recommendation – FitBit Versa. I’ve had a few different FitBit’s over the years, and the Versa is definitely my favorite! It’s the biggest competitor to the Apple Watch, and I prefer its exercise analytics and sleek design. You can also download your favorite apps and music on your FitBit Versa too! 
  • Portable Speaker:  I actually bought the UE Roll out of necessity when our other speaker died on a road trip through New Zealand , but I’m SO happy we did! It’s incredibly portable and easily hung up or carried with you. My Recommendation – UE Roll Wireless. This bluetooth speaker is not only wireless, but waterproof and shockproof too. It has great sound quality, and  it makes for the perfect addition to any camp out, beach day, or general use around the house. 
  • Portable Battery Charger: You never know when your phone or camera might die. I always always always carry a portable battery charger with me. Not only does it ensure that I will always be charged up, but it’s also nice to be able to provide your friends with a bit of juice when their phones die too (because, no, they typically never have an external battery charger). My Recommendation – myCharge AdventureMax Portable Charger . The myCharge is an important buy for travelers because, aside from having dual USB ports for charging (which is awesome), it is also splash-proof, drop-resistant, and dirt-proof, making it the perfect travel buddy. It’s also incredibly small and compact and has an attached carabiner, so it’s easy to throw in your purse or attach off a backpack.  
  • International Adaptor: No matter where you’re traveling, this is an absolute must. I always carry at least two international adaptors so that, if one breaks, I always have a back up. You would be surprised how many people forget to pack an international adaptor. My Recommendation – Upgraded Universal Travel Adaptor. The reason I love this travel adaptor is that not only does it have a standard plug, but four USB ports as well. Sometimes I don’t have a long time to charge my equipment, but with this adaptor I have the ability to charge everything at the same time. This Universal Adaptor works in over 150 countries, so it’s certainly handy to have!
  • Chargers: If you have a lot of gear, it’s likely that you have a lot of cords and cables. While there’s no need to elaborate, these are the main chargers that I always have on hand. 

Medications: When people think of travel essentials, they don’t typically think of meds, but important Medications should never be checked! Should your luggage be lost, you don’t want to be without your daily meds. If you have prescribed medication, ensure that it is packed in your carry on. Aside from our individual health needs, I recommend packing – at minimum – Advil, Allergy Medications, Pepto-Bismol (or something similar), Motion Sickness Tablets, Tylenol AM/PM, and Malaria Tablets (depending on your destination), as well as Neosporin Cream and Hydrocortisone Cream. And, of course, if you carry an EpiPen, don’t forget that either! 

Miscellaneous: These are some small things I wasn’t sure how to categorize, but I make sure to have all of these in my carry on as well!

Packing Essentials

Clothing: Clothing is a tricky one, as this really varies per person. I’ve done 8 month trips where I’ve had 5 tops and 5 bottoms, and weeklong cruise trips where I have 20 outfits for 7 days. I highly recommend Anatomie as your go-to travel clothing brand though, and they’ve actually been endorsed by both Forbes Travel Guide and Condé Nast Traveler. Please take the time to view these three articles:

  • The Best Travel Pants For Women
  • The Best Travel Shirts For Women
  • Travel Clothes For Women 

women's travel pants & travel essentials

With the founders of Anatomie, my go-to travel clothing!

In general though, you can use the table below as a rough guideline for the types of clothing you should pack. I don’t go anywhere without these things – no matter what season it is. Remember when packing, your clothes will typically get a bit wrinkly, so I recommend bringing a travel-sized wrinkle releaser as well as a dual-voltage travel steamer. 

Toiletries: Do yourself a favor and purchase the Eagle Creek Pack It Quick Trip Toiletry Bag . It’s the perfect sized toiletry bag and very lightweight. It should easily fit all of your toiletries, aside from your Microfiber Towel ( this is a must! ). There’s no need to explain what each toiletry is needed for though, so I’m providing you with another table with what to bring – 

Shoes: Shoes are always a personal preference. I used to travel with just one pair of flip flops and one pair of hiking boots, but times have changed a bit. I know other people who practically need a whole suitcase just for their heels. With that said, these days I typically pack sandals, a pair of flip-flops, black heels, nude heels, cross-training shoes, sneakers, and hiking boots when I’m going on a longer trip. And, of course, plenty of socks! I recommend Puma’s ankle socks and Darn Tough hiking socks. 

Gotta have a good pair of heels while you're cruising!

Outdoor Essentials

Camping: So you’ve decided that you want to become one with nature, or you’re simply on a trip that’s better suited for camping – awesome! Years ago I spent two months camping through Central America and another two months camping through Africa, and both were incredible experiences. It helped that I was well-prepared though! It’s important to note that even if you decide to camp in the summer (or in a desert), it is not always warm at night. I’ve learned this the hard way, so make sure you pack many layers and are prepared for every type of climate, every time. My go-to camping equipment is as follows –

a tent with the milky way overhead

Couldn't have camped in New Zealand without my lightweight tent!

  • Big Agnes Tent: Big Agnes is the best of the best when it comes to finding the most lightweight, durable tents. I used a bulkier tent for my first camping trip and regretted it instantly. My Recommendation – Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 3. I’ve loved every night that I’ve spent in this tent — it’s unbelievably light for a three-person tent, very comfortable, and weatherproof too! I always opt for a three-person tent over a two-person tent so that we can keep our gear inside with us and have a little extra space. 
  • Sleeping Pad: A good sleeping pad is a necessity. When I first started camping I tried to go cheap to save money, but it was a terrible decision. It definitely isn’t fun spending the night slipping and sliding off your mat, or feeling the ground under your back. My Recommendation –  Big Agnes Air Core Ultra Sleeping Pad. This sleeping pad comes with the option of it being insulated or uninsulated, and I’d definitely recommend the insulation as it’s rated for 3-season camping and still only weighs in at 21oz! This folds up incredibly small (about the size of a water bottle) yet doesn’t compromise on its comfort. 
  • Sleeping Bag: A roomy yet packable sleeping bag is also, obviously, very important for camping. I recommend getting a 2-3 season sleeping bag and doing your research to ensure that it’s super lightweight. My Recommendation – Sea to Summit Spark Down Sleeping Bag. The beauty of this sleeping bag is that it weighs just over a pound and packs down to just 4.9L! It also comes with a compression bag so that it compresses down to the size of a water bottle. This sleeping bag is water resistant, has a great hooded component, and will keep you warm all night. 
  • Sleep Liner: This is something that a lot of people forget about, but it’s incredibly handy. I suggest traveling with a sleep liner for a few reasons. First, it can be an extra layer if it’s colder outside, but it can also be your only layer if it’s too warm for your sleeping bag. Also, it doesn’t need to be used just for camping. When I used to stay in hostels, I’d use my sleep liner in bed rather than use the blanket. My Recommendation – Sea to Summit Adaptor Coolmax Liner Traveller with Insect Shield. I’ve used this all over the world. You can purchase it without the insect shield, but I personally prefer having the extra insect repellant treatment, especially when in outdoorsy locations. 
  • Ultra Light Pillow: You want a comfortable, small blowup pillow to have with you. I’ve seen way too many people fold up their clothes into an uncomfortable pillow when they could have just brought a lightweight pillow. My Recommendation – Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Ultra Light. I’ve had this pillow for about five years now, and it’s never let me down. I won’t go anywhere without it. Not only does it pack down to smaller than the palm of my hand, but it’s genuinely comfortable! There have been many times where I’ve been in luxury hotels with pillows that were too high for me, so I just blew up this little pillow.  
  • Hammock or Sleeping Hammock: If you’re camping, sometimes you just want to hang out outside of the tent… literally. A hammock definitely comes in handy during those times! Travel hammocks are easy to set up and are great for lounging, napping or reading a book. My Recommendation – ENO DoubleNest Hammock. This is a two person hammock, but comfortable for just one as well. It folds down small and is quite lightweight. Sometimes we bring it on our hikes as well, rather than just keeping them at the campsite! If you don’t feel like sleeping in the tent, or have a third-wheeler tagging along, the ENO Ember 2 Under Quilt could be of use too. 

girl in hammock by the lake

Who doesn't love a good hammock?!

  • Cookware: If you’re camping, you’ll definitely want the ability to cook easily. We all know though that no one wants to lug metal pots and pans to their campsite. My Recommendation – Sea to Summit X-Series. It doesn’t get much better than lightweight, durable, and collapsible cookware! The 5-piece set comes with one pot, two bowls, and two mugs, so you may need to order more than one set depending on how many people you’re camping with. They fold up smaller than you could imagine! 
  • Spork: A spork is just one of the most convenient things you could have. Whether you need a spoon, knife, or fork, the spork has your back! I always carry a spork with me in my daypacks as well, as you never know when you will need one. My Recommendation – Tapirus 5 Spork of Steel Utensils Set. I highly recommend these rust-proof stainless steel sporks over their plastic equivalents. I had numerous plastic sporks break on me before transitioning to stainless steel and haven’t had any problems since. 
  • Inflatable Lounger: Have you seen these things?! They’re infinitely better than any camp chair and fold up even smaller! These are truly one of the most interesting and useful camping additions that I’ve seen. My Recommendation – AlphaBeing Inflatable Lounger. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, click that link and check it out — it’s one of those things that is better visualized than described.  
  • LED Camping Lantern: You certainly need something to light up your campsite or tent once it gets dark. As I like to keep things small and portable, I always suggest going for a lantern that collapses into itself. My Recommendation – MISPO 6 Pack Portable Camping Lantern with LED Flashlights. These are the perfect mini lanterns to put in and around your campsite. Then, when you’re not using them, they barely take up any space and pack away easily.  

Hiking: It’s important to practice safe hiking anywhere you go. As always, I recommend looking up your hiking trails in advance, letting someone know where you’re going, and having a trail map handy. Bring many layers, in addition to the following –

girl with a blue sweatshirt, red hat, and hiking poles stands in front of the matterhorn in switzerland - travel essentials

Couldn't have tackled the Matterhorn Base Camp without my hiking poles!

  • Hiking Backpack: If you’re planning on taking day trips from your campsite or accommodation, a good hiking backpack is a necessity. I always look for things like good waist support and structure, as well as ample pockets. My Recommendation –  Osprey Sirrus 24 Women’s Hiking Backpack and Osprey Stratos 24 Men’s Hiking Backpack. If you don’t remember why I chose these packs specifically, please scroll back up to the “luggage” section. 
  • Trekkers Pack: If you’re going on a multi-day hike or staying in refugios along the trail, then you’ll need a bigger and better trekkers pack. Like the hiking backpack, this needs to be both structured and very comfortable. My Recommendation – Osprey Ariel AG 65 Women’s Backpacking Backpack and Osprey Atmos 65 AG Men’s Backpacking Backpack . Jump back up to the “luggage” section if you’d like a refresher on these options.  
  • Hydration Pack: Whether you’re going out on a two hour hike on a hot summer day or a long trek, a water bladder makes a massive difference! You won’t have to deal with taking off your backpack to take a sip, or worrying about your water bottle falling out of the side pocket. Plus, you can carry far more water with a hydration pack as well. My Recommendation – CamelBak Crux 2L or 3L Reservoir. I originally thought I’d save money by going with a non-name brand, but when I did that my water always tasted like plastic and, quite frankly, it was disgusting. CamelBak deserves the praise that it gets, and it’s definitely worth the price tag. I have both a 2L and a 3L, depending on what type of hike I’m doing. I find the 3L more useful on a day-to-day basis, as it doesn’t always need to be filled to the top.
  • Hiking Poles: Hiking Poles are a necessity for any hiker, in my opinion. Hiking poles not only make you a bit faster, but they take some pressure off your knees too. I always look for carbon poles are they are a lot lighter than aluminum poles. My Recommendation –   Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking Poles. Not only are these lightweight, 100% carbon fiber, and of the highest quality, but they also fold into three sections which makes them incredibly convenient to pack or attach to a backpack when not in use. 
  • Headlamp: Whether you’re completing a sunrise or sunset mission, wandering around your campsite in the evening, or misjudged the length of your hike, it is imperative to carry a headlamp on you whenever you’re hiking! My Recommendation – Black Diamond Storm Headlamp. This headlamp is both waterproof and dustproof, which is always helpful! It also had three different color LED options, as well as adjustable intensity. I also love that it has a lock mode, which keeps my headlamp from turning on in my pack!

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Hiking in the dark can be dangerous without a headlamp

  • Water Filter: A water filter is very important when you’re out hiking. If something happens and you run out of water, you can stick it into any water (from a dirty puddle to a river) and it should come out clean. My Recommendation – LifeStraw Personal Water Filter. The LifeStraw removes waterborne bacteria, waterborne parasites, and micro-plastics found in the environment from your water. It is the most reliable water filter system for a hiker on the market. One of the admirable things about LifeStraw is that for every product purchased, a child receives safe drinking water for an entire school year – pretty remarkable! 
  • Pocket Tissues: You never know when you’ll have a runny nose, have to clean up a spill… or need to pee. Just have them on you. 
  • First Aid Kit: This should be a given, but I know plenty of people who don’t hike with one. Should anything happen, it helps to know that you’re properly prepared. My Recommendation – M2 Basic 150 Piece First Aid Kit. This is a travel-sized first aid kit that is about the size of your hand, so there’s no excuse not to put it in your backpack!
  • Bug Spray Wipes: Applying bug spray is typically a pain and tends to leave you sticky and oily, but not with the wipes! My Recommendation: Repel 94100 Sportsmen 30-Percent Deet Mosquito Repellent Wipes. I started traveling with these in 2013 and haven’t looked back. They’re incredibly easy-to-use, portable, and protective. 
  • Clif Bars or Clif Protein Bars: You definitely need to ensure that you have some sustenance to keep you going while hiking. Although I’m not a big fan of the sugar content in Clif Bars, there’s no debating the fact that they were designed to help give your body fuel while active. My Recommendation – Clif Bar Variety Pack or, if you’re looking for a higher level of protein, the Clif Builders Protein Bar Variety Pack. While Clif Bars are – hands down – the tastiest protein bars on the market, my favorite flavors are the White Chocolate Macadamia and the Chocolate Mint. 
  • Hiking Boots: Wearing good hiking boots is, of course, imperative. Over the years, I’ve spent ages researching the best and most comfortable brands. Another aspect that’s always important to me is that they’re waterproof, as you never know what conditions you might be hiking in or if the weather might take a turn. My Recommendation – Lowa Women’s Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot and Lowa Men’s Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot. Once I discovered Lowa, I never turned back. I’ve owned four different pairs of their hiking boots, as I’m incredibly happy with the model. They are properly waterproof and supportive, and perfect for any type of hike be it short distance or long distance. 
  • Hiking Socks: If you hike a lot, you know how important a comfortable, breathable sock is. If you’re anything like me, your socks probably also take a bit of a beating, so you need to find something reliable. My Recommendation – Darn Tough Hiker ¼ Cushion Sock – Womens and Darn Tough Hiker ¼ Cushion Sock – Mens. Not only are Darn Tough socks incredibly comfortable and antimicrobial, but they are guaranteed for life! If you’re a frequent hiker, there’s no brand more reliable than Darn Tough, and they’re certainly worth the price tag.  
  • Base Layers: Base layers have saved me time and time again while out for long hikes, and I cannot stress their importance! If I’m not wearing my base layers, they’re in my bags. While there are so many brands and base layers out there, it’s important to do your research as I simply can’t list them all. My Recommendation – Women’s Ultra-Soft Long Johns & Warm Top Set and Men’s Thermal Underwear Set. Always, always make sure that your base layers are moisture-wicking!
  • Down Jacket: I carry a down jacket with me on every trail, every camping trip, and even every airplane. It doesn’t matter whether it’s sweltering hot or freezing cold, I always have one with me to ensure that I’m prepared. My Recommendation – Mountain Hardwear Women’s Ghost Whisperer Down Hooded Jacket and Men’s Ghost Whisperer Down Hooded Jacket. These jackets are, in my opinion, the best lightweight down jackets on the market. The hood is important, as it provides that extra warm, and they’re both machine-washable. Another aspect that I love – and find to be incredibly useful – is that it folds up into itself so that it packs down extremely small. The jacket is worth every cent to me, and I wouldn’t travel without it!

girl stands with northern lights in iceland

Staying warm in Iceland thanks to my down jacket

  • Rain Jacket: You’re pretty much crazy if you decide to go hiking without a rain jacket. Not only could the weather change from a beautiful day to an ugly storm in the blink of an eye, but it also serves as a windproof layer as well. My Recommendation – Outdoor Research Women’s Aspire Jacket and Outdoor Research Men’s Horizon Jacket. After testing out multiple lightweight rain jackets, and finding myself soaked after a good rain, I decided to invest in a GORE-TEX rain jacket. While they’re slightly bigger, these rain jackets will still packs down small enough to throw in your backpack… and it will actually keep you try! They are waterproof, windproof, and extremely breathable due to the multiple venting systems. 
  • Hat: An easily packable sun hat always comes in handy. While there are plenty of “cute” ones out there, I like to make sure that I purchase hats that can both be thrown in the wash and are moisture-wicking. My Recommendation –  Outdoor Research Women’s Solar Roller Hat. I discovered this hat a few years back, and found it so convenient that it’s the only hat that I ever hike or travel with. While this is obviously a women’s hat, the male or uni-sex equivalent would be the Outdoor Research Helios Sun Hat.  
  • Buff: Buffs have many uses – whether you’re wanting to keep your neck, face, or head warm. They’re lightweight and incredibly useful. My Recommendation – Buff Polar Multifunctional Headwear. I’ve owned many buffs in my life and, when I’m outdoors, the Polar Buff is most definitely my favorite. It has a SPF 50 and has fleece at the bottom and microfiber at the top, making it the perfect accessory to keep both your neck and face warm in chilly temperatures. It’s also moisture-wicking and quick-drying, and can be worn in over ten different ways! 
  • Gloves: There are honestly so many warm, cozy gloves on the market that it’s hard to choose just one. My Recommendation – Outdoor Research Women’s PL Base Sense Gloves and the Outdoor Research Men’s PL Sensor Gloves . You need a glove that can withstand cold weather, is wind resistant, and offers touchscreen compatibility. 

Fitness “On The Go” Essentials

I get asked all the time how I stay in shape while on the road. Whether I’m in a luxury hotel and eating my heart out, or camping and carb loading, I can’t say that it’s easy. But I will say that it takes conscious effort every single day. I’ve learned to say no to two $0.25 ice cream cones in the same day, as tempting as it is! I also implement a strict workout routine, which has gotten infinitely easier since I started using LiveKick Fitness. They specialize in one-on-one personal training and private yoga done via live video — think FaceTime but for fitness! You can choose your (highly qualified) instructor for a time that works for you, no matter where you live in the world! I’ve done everything from high intensity exercise in my ocean view hotel in Australia to yoga in my office at home in the States. And the best part is, you don’t need access to a gym or any equipment if you don’t want! You could try out LiveKick Fitness here, and be sure to use the code “FIVEFOOTTRAVELER15” for 15% off your LiveKick plan! Other than being armed with my LiveKick Fitness App, I travel with –

on video in real time with livekick fitness - a personal trainer and a yoga instructor

Screen cap of my LiveKick personal training (left) & yoga (right)

  • Resistance Loop Exercise Bands – I started using looped resistance bands when I injured my knee two years ago, but it’s a fantastic addition to any workout when you’re a new exerciser or an exercise junkie. I use these largely for strength training and physical therapy.
  • Flat Exercise Bands – Flat exercise bands give you a few more options, which allows you to truly get a full body workout whenever you want.
  • Rumble Roller – My 12-inch RumbleRoller is one of my favorite things that I pack, when I have the space! Nothing feels better than this spiky foam roller after a good hike or exercise. 
  • Cross-Training Shoe – I’ve made the mistake many times of doing aerobics and weight-lifting in a running sneaker, which just isn’t good for you! The Nike Air Bella’s are light-weight and comfortable trainers.
  • Running Shoe – If you’re also a runner though, I’d recommend packing your running shoes too. Maybe you’ll be luckier than I and could find a one-shoe-fits-all for you though! I’ve worn Brooks Ghost sneakers for many years now and I’ve been quite happy with them. 
  • Travel Yoga Mat – I always wanted the ability to be able to stretch anytime, anywhere, which led me to research travel-sized yoga mats. The Plyopic Travel Yoga Mat is both lightweight, eco-friendly, and foldable so that you can bring it wherever you need. 

Reading Essentials

Beach reads are always necessary. Sometimes it’s nice to get lost in a good story and enjoy a book with a view. While I could individually summarize these books, I think it’s best if you check them out yourself to see which one is best for you 🙂 Here are some of my favorite travel books –

girl sits on bench reading her kindle in front of the mountains

It may not be the beach, but I thought it was a great spot to read!

  • Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche
  • What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman
  • Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
  • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
  • Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Drink, Play, F@#k by Bob Sullivan
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

If you feel like being slightly more intellectual on your vacation, I highly recommend these excellent entrepreneur books:

  • Expert Secrets by Russel Brunson (#1 recommended biz book!)
  • DotCom Secrets by Russel Brunson
  • 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class by Steve Siebold
  • How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson
  • Ca$hvertising by Drew Eric Whitman

Business Management Essentials

More and more frequently you will find people on the road who have the freedom to work remotely. If you are a business owner, or wannabe business owner, these are my absolutely necessary softwares and systems needed to keep my business running online, even when I’m not in front of my computer. Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean that you need to stop making money 🙂

girl works on laptop at the beach

Working remotely on the beach in Australia

  • ClickFunnels – Whether you run an online business or you’re looking to become a digital nomad, ClickFunnels is an absolute must! This software helps you great the highest converting sales funnels amongst many, many other incredible features. They offer a free Affiliate Bootcamp that I highly recommend going through if you’re new to the online space. If you aren’t new to working online, and haven’t checked out ClickFunnels though, you can grab your free trial here. Email me if you do, and I will share with you my top converting sales funnel.  
  • GetResponse – Email marketing is key to success. No matter what business you’re in, you need the ability to directly reach out to your followers or consumers without every having to think about social media algorithms. Through email marketing you can get your audience to know, like, and trust you… and ultimately buy from you. And the beauty of this is that if you’re on a trip, you can set up an email autoresponder series to continually bring in sales without you having to even open up your computer! GetResponse is free for under 1,000 email contacts, and have incredibly reasonable rates after that given the service they provide. You can sign up for your free account here.  
  • BlueHost – Do you have a blog or website? It needs to be hosted somewhere to be kept safe! Your web host ensures that your site continues to run smoothly and backs up your site daily should anything go wrong; it’s your website’s safety shield. BlueHost offers incredibly low rates, and I’m able to give them to you for even lower. You can purchase your BlueHost web hosting for just $3.95/month here! 
  • ClickMagick – I personally never click on an “ugly” link – a link that has a ton of numbers and letters and seemingly goes on forever. ClickMagick allows you to turn those long ugly links into short, clean URLs using your domain name. You can grab your ClickMagick account here.
  • Later – If you’re wondering how people post to Instagram on the go or have beautifully crafted Instagram feeds, it’s likely because they use a tool to help them get organized. I first discovered Later last year and have used them ever since to help schedule, analyze, and organize my accounts. Because they’re an official partner of Instagram, you can craft your posts and then schedule them to be automatically posted to Instagram! And the best part is, it’s free! Set up your free account here. 
  • TailWind – If you understand the value of Pinterest for your business, TailWind is an absolute must. It allows you to easily schedule out your Pins and re-Pin from others in your niche. You can adjust your settings so that you auto-Pin throughout the day, without having to sit in front of your phone or computer the whole time! Pinterest is a huge driver of traffic to websites, so it’s important that you take advantage of its benefits. TailWind is also free, and you can claim your account here.  
  • LiveLeap – Are you someone who likes to go live on social media a lot, either to showcase what your business has to offer or to show off your latest vacation? LiveLeap allows you to live stream on Facebook across multiple pages, which can increase your views ten times more than without it! So if you stream on your business page, you can also connect it to your personal page and Facebook group so that your live video goes live on all of those pages at once. It’s a great way to expand your reach! You can set up your account here. 

I hope that this list of travel essentials didn’t overwhelm you! I obviously travel full-time and am always over-prepared, so you just need to pick and choose which of these items is most important for the type of trip that you are preparing for. I wish you the best of luck with packing… as I sure as heck know how much we BOTH need it! As you pack and prepare for your next trip, please let me know in the comments below if I missed any important travel essentials. 

girls sits on rocks with four penguins on her south africa vacation

I'll leave you with some penguins – and a great travel hat!

In the meantime, please ensure that you purchase travel insurance before you leave! Of all of these travel essentials, t ravel insurance is arguably the most important thing to have on hand (after your passports and visas). I’ve had to use my travel insurance multiple times on the road, even though I’m healthy. You never know when something might happen; take comfort in knowing that whether your flight gets cancelled or you wind up sick and in the hospital, you will be covered. I recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance for all of you. You can get a free quote here.  

Pin “137 Travel Essentials” For Later!

travel essentials packing list

The only thing I would add is: a few zip lock bags. I’ve done a lot of travelling…roadtrips, backpacking in Europe, rail and air travel, and won’t go anywhere without them. You never know when something will start leaking, or you have leftover snacks, or need a waterproof place to stash your phone or pocket camera. They take no space at all, and never say “I told you so!” when you do need one.

Sarah Gallo

YES! Great tip! I always have them on me too 🙂

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Hi, I’m Sarah!

sarah gallo the five foot traveler

Hello World! I’m Sarah Gallo, The Five Foot Traveler, and I choose to dream out loud. After conquering a crippling fear of flying, I’ve developed an unquenchable passion for traveling. Since my newfound freedom, I have set foot on all seven continents, explored 114 countries, and continue to strive to live life to the fullest. Continue Reading…

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  • 2 Compression Socks
  • 3 Sunglasses
  • 4 Passport Holder
  • 6 Water Bottle
  • 8 Cheek and Lip Stain
  • 9 Mini Purse
  • 10 Neck Pillow
  • 11 Under-Eye Mask
  • 12 Headphones
  • 13 Portable Phone Charger
  • 14 Makeup Removing Wipes
  • 15 Hand Sanitizer
  • 16 Travel Wrap
  • 17 Dry Shampoo
  • 18 Jet Lag Remedy
  • 19 E-reader

19 Items to Pack in Your Carry-On for Every Flight

From cute passport holders to iPhone power banks to no-mess makeup remover, we've rounded up a packing list of 19 must-have essentials to stow in your personal item carry-on—no matter what destination you're bound for next. Don't get on the plane without them!

Style + Travel Editor | Instagram @jackiehoman | jackiehoman.com

See recent posts by Jackie Homan & Siobhan Reid

State backpack

First thing’s first: the personal item-sized bag that will fit the essentials below. We’re all for maxing out our carry-on allowance, and that’s where a spacious, durable backpack proves invaluable. Our go-to: this simple, streamlined pick from STATE Bags . It’s roomy enough to fit everything you’ll need by your side on the plane, and it comes with three pockets and a 17″ laptop sleeve.

Compression Socks

Compression Socks

If you’ve ever walked barefoot through airport security, you know the importance of having a backup pair of socks in your carry-on. On long flights, experts recommend compression socks , which boost circulation and help prevent swelling and blood clots—plus keep your toes nice and toasty in chilly airplane cabins.


Sometimes, a great concealer and cooling eye gel just won’t hide the effects of a long-haul flight. In those cases, we like to hide behind a pair of dark, oversized sunglasses like these ones from Warby Parker.

RELATED: 18 Essentials You Should NEVER Forget to Pack for a Trip

Style + Design pink bag petal rectangle pattern heart textile

Passport Holder

There’s no hard evidence to suggest that a bright, colorful passport holder will reduce your chances of leaving behind your passport on a plane. But given just how fetching this flamingo print is, we’re willing to hedge our bets.

plane travel list

We might travel constantly, but falling soundly asleep on a plane remains a talent that has somehow eluded us. Still, an eye mask can go a long way by canceling out harsh light and other distractions. This adorable option from Slip is made from 100% silk and provides complete eye coverage without pinching behind the ears.

Water Bottle

Water Bottle

One easy way to invest in your health and the environment when you travel: use a stainless steel water bottle. There are plenty of great options out there, but our personal fave is this Aurora-inspired pick from S’well. It’ll keep your beverage cold for 24 hours and hot for 12, and it’s non-toxic and non-leaching.

RELATED: What to Pack for a Beach Vacation


Of course there’s always Instagram, but when it comes to documenting a trip in all of its small, wondrous details, nothing compares to an old-fashioned notebook. This design from Promptly Journals includes meaningful prompts to guide you along the way.

Cheek and Lip Stain

Cheek and Lip Stain

The cold, recycled air of airplanes is a major complexion-killer. Get your glow back by reaching for a multitasking stain like the Aura from Vapour. Its blendable, pigmented formula adds a pop of color to your lips and cheeks, making you look instantly refreshed on the go.

plane travel list

Don’t be the person holding everyone else up as you search for your boarding pass in the bottomless pit of your purse. Instead, sling a small, chic number across your shoulders so that you’ll have all the necessities—passport, wallet, ID—ready at a moment’s notice. We’re crushing on this mini crossbody from Italian brand Furla—it comes in tons of fun colors.

RELATED: The 15 Best Designer Beach Bags to Buy Now

Neck Pillow

Neck Pillow

The revolutionary Trtl travel pillow keeps your head in an upright position while you snooze against its hidden internal support system. Half the size of an ordinary U-shaped pillow, it’ll fit right into your under-seat carry-on bag.

RELATED: The Travel Pillow You Need for Your Next Flight

Style + Design text brand picture frame

Under-Eye Mask

We’ve all seen those pics of celebrities donning sheet masks while traveling. But the reality is, economy class and a sopping wet face mask don’t exactly mix. We like to reap the benefits of the in-flight beauty phenomenon by opting for a foolproof under-eye mask instead. Our tried-and-trusted favorite is Tatcha’s Luminous Deep Hydration Revitalizing Eye Mask . It contains Okinawa red algae, honeysuckle, and peony extracts to combat puffiness and dark circles.

plane travel list

Between engine noise and crying babies, there’s no question that a powerful pair of headphones is a travel must. This chic beige Pampas pair from Urbanears blends style and sound like nothing we’ve ever seen (or heard!) before. The over-ear model was designed for comfort during extra-long listening sessions, and the battery life is set to match—you can listen wirelessly for over 30 hours on a single charge.

RELATED: You Won’t Believe These Noise-Canceling Headphones Are Under $100

Portable Phone Charger

Portable Phone Charger

The deficit of electrical outlets in airports is a major problem, one that is not likely to be solved in the immediate future. For the time being, make do with this lipstick-sized portable charger from Anker . The design is compact as can be, and the power bank has a 3350 mAh battery to provide one full charge for most iPhones.

Makeup Removing Wipes

Makeup Removing Wipes

If sleeping in your makeup is the ultimate beauty no-no, sleeping in your makeup on an airplane is practically sinful. Not only can it cause acne, plugged follicles, and a lackluster complexion, it can also lead to eye infections and premature aging. To avoid these unwanted side effects, cleanse your skin before your flight with these travel-friendly wipes from Skinfood , available at Soko Glam . They’re packed with nourishing rice bran water that brightens and refreshes skin.

Hand Sanitizer

Hand Sanitizer

To put in mildly, planes are icky. Keep the germs at bay with Elyptol , a hand sanitizer gel that uses natural ingredients—eucalyptus oil and naturally-sourced pure ethanol—to kill up to 99.99% of bacteria and fungi.

RELATED: 20 Things You’re Going to Want to Buy on Amazon This Month

Travel Wrap

Travel Wrap

Even in summer months (or on warm-weather destination routes), planes can feel freezing—and there’s nothing worse than shivering for 10 hours on a long-haul trip. Pack one of White + Warren’s cult-favorite travel wraps in your carry-on so that it’s by your side in case the temps drop.

Dry Shampoo

Dry Shampoo

For an instant refresher once you land, spritz on some of Amika’s Perk Up dry shampoo . It absorbs oil with zero chalky residue and leaves strands shiny, soft, and ready to take on the day.

Jet Lag Remedy

Jet Lag Remedy

Call it placebo effect if you want, but over 1,000 Amazon reviewers say that these homeopathic jet lag prevention tablets really work. Made with just five all-natural ingredients, the supplement is designed to combat fatigue, disorientation, dehydration, lack of concentration, and other side effects of long-haul travel.

RELATED: 5 Super Affordable Jet Lag Remedies on Amazon


We love hardcover books as much as the next guy, but when it comes to travel, an e-reader just makes more sense. Lightweight and waterproof, the new Kindle Paperwhite keeps you ready to read wherever you are. Need a book rec? Right now, we’re loving  Educated by Tara Westover and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

Outfits to Pack for Your Next Trip

Women’s leggings and cardigan outfit, shop the look.

plane travel list

Crewneck Tee

plane travel list

Chuck Taylor® All Star®

Men’s spring pants outfit for a vacation.

plane travel list

Want more? 

  • The BEST Travel Neck Pillows of 2020
  • 11 Amazon-Approved Items That’ll Make Packing SO Much Easier
  • 26 Wardrobe Essentials Every Woman Needs in 2020

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25 airplane essentials you should never travel without.

Lindsay Frankel

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Flying unprepared can be a disaster. Maybe you forgot to charge your phone, haven’t eaten in hours, and keep nodding off onto the shoulder of the stranger next to you. Or maybe you’re just bored, freezing, and annoyed with the loud child a few rows back.

We’ve all endured flights like this, but they’re (mostly) avoidable if you pack the right things to keep you cozy and entertained.

If you’re going to go through the trouble of finding the cheapest airfare or using points to fly for cheap , take the extra step to pack items that will ensure you’ll have a comfortable flight. Taking it a step further, earn some rewards on your purchases with the right credit cards . Here are the top travel accessories that you’ll want readily available in your carry-on bag.

25 things to add to your plane packing list

Antibacterial wipes.

An airplane is a great place to pick up other people’s germs, and a vacation or business trip is probably the worst time to get sick. Wipe down your tray table with some antibacterial wipes as soon as you board, and give your hands a swab before you pull out the snacks. We prefer the fresh lavender scent and the natural ingredients in these EO Hand Sanitizer Wipes to other brands.

A reusable water bottle

You can’t bring a full water bottle through security, and the ones sold at airport vendors are always overpriced. Enter the reusable water bottle.

We love the Que water bottle because it’s collapsible — which makes it perfect to pack in a carry-on — weighs next to nothing, and comes in a variety of cool colors so you can pick one that matches your luggage.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by que Bottle (@quebottle) on Sep 6, 2019 at 8:09am PDT

Hydration drops

Traveling for long hours can dehydrate you, so you’ll want to make sure to drink plenty of fluids. Unfortunately, the caffeine and soda options offered to you on the plane aren’t great for replacing your electrolytes, so keep some DripDrop on hand. It comes in small packets, so it’s easy to add to your water when you’re traveling, and it doesn’t have a ton of sugar in it like most sports drinks.

Since it’s easy to pick up a bug while traveling, giving your immune system an extra boost is a good idea. Grab some Emergen-C and add it to your water bottle during your flight to keep illness at bay.

Compression socks

When you’re forced to sit for a prolonged period, such as on an international flight, your risk of developing a blood clot increases. Since this can be life-threatening, you should do everything you can to minimize the risk, especially if you have conditions like being diabetic or overweight, which can make you more susceptible.

One possible solution is wearing compression socks. You’re probably picturing hospital attire, but Vim & Vigr makes compression socks in a variety of sizes and designs that are actually stylish and comfortable.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by VIM & VIGR (@vimvigr) on Jan 23, 2019 at 5:30pm PST

Travel blanket

Cozy up to something soft and warm, and you’re more likely to get that much-needed shut-eye. It’s almost always too cold on airplanes, but you don’t need to risk using the aircraft’s questionable blankets. Cocoon has several travel blankets that are lightweight, warm, quick-drying, and packable.

Travel pillow

Without something to support your neck, it’s nearly impossible to sleep sitting up for more than 10 seconds at a time. There are plenty of travel pillows out there — and many are inflatable if you need to preserve space — but we love the design and comfort of the Ostrichpillow GO . It offers ergonomic neck support and packs down to half its size.

If you need complete darkness to sleep, an eye mask is a necessary travel essential. The quality of the materials and comfort of the design are important in an eye mask, so do yourself a favor and grab a 100% mulberry silk eye mask from Slip . For a more affordable option, check out the Coyuchi Organic Sateen Eye Mask .

A warm sweater or hoodie

There’s no need to dress up for your flight. Wear comfortable clothing that keeps you warm and cozy. You can find a comfy sweater at almost any apparel retailer, but we particularly love the softness of American Eagle Outfitters’ loungewear. Check out the AE Super Soft Fleece Icon Hoodie for men or the Aerie Down-To-Earth Crew Sweatshirt for women.

A tight pair of jeans or dress pants can really cramp your style on an airplane. Opt for a pair of sweatpants or leggings instead. American Apparel has you covered with the Cotton Spandex Jersey High-Waist Leggings for women and the California Fleece Slim Fit Jogger for men.

If you can’t get comfy with your shoes on, don’t be the guy who airs his smelly feet on the plane. Instead, grab a pair of Acorn Packable Travel Moc Slippers . They fold down and come with a carrying pouch.

Need a way to drown out your neighbor’s snoring while you get some sleep? You’ll want a pair of earplugs that travel easily and stay clean in your carry-on bag.

Check out this Matador Travel Earplugs Kit , which are made of memory foam and come with a carrying case that can be attached to your key ring or backpack zipper.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Matador (@matador.up) on Apr 23, 2018 at 8:24am PDT

An Amazon Fire tablet

An Amazon Prime membership is an easy way to get plenty of streaming content available to watch offline, but you’ll need to use an Amazon device or smartphone to access it. Since everything looks better on a bigger screen, we recommend the Amazon Fire HD 10 .

A power bank

You’ll need to keep those devices charged while you’re traveling, so pick up an external battery pack. Anker power banks consistently receive great reviews; we especially like the Anker PowerCore 10000 PD because it’s lightweight and compact while delivering a whole lot of power.

Noise-cancelling headphones

Bose has long been considered the go-to brand for noise-canceling headphones, and you can even find Bose kiosks in some airports. The new Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 provide up to 20 hours of battery life and feature Bluetooth connectivity so you won’t have to worry about wires.

An adult coloring book

When you get bored of watching movies and shows, try an activity that engages a different part of your brain. Amazon has a selection of coloring books designed for adults, and you can pick up some colored pencils there as well.

A travel journal

Why not use some of your free time on the plane to plan your next adventure? The Travel Journal by Wandrd has space for 12 different trips, maps, packing lists, and plenty of other tools to help you plan your itineraries and log your memories.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by WANDRD (@wandrd) on May 11, 2019 at 8:03am PDT

The next few items on the list are essential because it tends to be dry on an airplane — and that can cause some discomfort. Make sure you have an adequate lip balm with you for dry, chapped lips. We love the Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 .

Nothing’s more irritating than dry eyes. To prevent them, grab a small bottle of TheraTears to throw into your carry-on bag. You can even buy single-use vials if you don’t want to pack a whole bottle.


An exceptional moisturizer can help prevent dry, itchy skin. This Kopari Coconut Melt Mini is more than just a moisturizer. It’s also a cleanser, make-up remover, and lip soother — a great product for those who prefer to pack minimally.

Facial sheet mask

Need more intense hydration for your face? With the right sheet mask, you’ll forget you’re not relaxing at a spa. For a no-mess facial, check out the Burt’s Bees Hydrating Sheet Mask .

Nasal spray

Getting a stuffy nose in the dry cabin air isn’t uncommon, so take a bottle of Xlear Nasal Spray on your next trip. It contains xylitol, which is naturally cleansing and moisturizing, and it won’t cause dryness like some other brands.

If you’re taking a long trip, you’ll probably want to brush your teeth on the plane. You’ll get an especially clean feeling with the Quip electric toothbrush . It’s perfect for travel because it doesn’t require a charging station and has a convenient cover to keep it sanitary. It’s even waterproof.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by quip (@quip) on Jul 30, 2019 at 4:25pm PDT

Flying on a plane is uncomfortable enough without adding minor aches or queasiness to the mix. Carry some basic meds such as ibuprofen, melatonin, dramamine, and Neosporin with you on the plane, along with any other medications you take regularly.

TSA-friendly snacks

Buying food at the airport can be pricey, and peanuts and pretzels likely aren’t enough to tide you over on a long flight. Come prepared with your own snacks, but be careful not to include large portions of liquids (like salad dressing) or goopy foods (like peanut butter), lest they get taken by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration).

We love Larabars for their nutritional value, simplicity, and array of flavors. These Lotus Foods Rice Ramen Noodle Soup Cups are also super easy to pack. Just ask your flight attendant for some hot water to add.

Whether you’re flying basic economy or first class, don’t get caught unprepared on your next flight. You can’t avoid the dry cabin air or rowdy travelers sitting beside you, but you can pack items that will make the entire experience more pleasant. You can even earn some extra points by using one of the best travel credit cards for your purchases. So put on your headphones, pull down your eye mask, and wrap up in your cozy sweater, then sit back and enjoy your flight!

Easy-to-Earn Unlimited Rewards

Card Details

Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases

  • Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
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  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 18.24% - 28.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

Bank of <span class='whitespace-nowrap'>America<sup>®</sup></span> Travel Rewards credit card

FinanceBuzz writers and editors score cards based on a number of objective features as well as our expert editorial assessment. Our partners do not influence how we rate products.

on Bank of America’s secure website

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Why we like it

The Bank of America ® Travel Rewards credit card is great for individuals who enjoy earning rewards and traveling.

Cardholders will enjoy the flexibility to redeem points with no blackout dates and receive a statement credit to pay for travel and dining purchases.

Earn 1.5X points on all purchases everywhere, every time.

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The Planet D: Adventure Travel Blog

The Ultimate Travel Packing List (By Professional Travellers)

Written By: The Planet D

Travel Gear

Updated On: January 23, 2024

plane travel list

Packing can be one of the most frustrating elements of traveling. It doesn’t seem to matter if it is your first trip or your 10th, you always seem to miss something. We put together this ultimate packing list t o help you avoid those packing mistakes on your next trip.

Table of Contents

The Perfect Packing Checklist

It is important to note that we compiled this ultimate travel packing list from 10 years of being professional travelers and bloggers. The goal of this packing list is to provide you with packing tips that will allow you to travel as efficiently and as comfortably as possible.

Travel Packing List for Luggage

travel packing list luggage

Choosing what type of luggage you are going to use is a personal choice. We have used everything from hi-tech wheeled luggage to the latest backpacks. These are our top recommendations for checked luggage and carry-on luggage that is durable and lightweight.

Travel packing list luggage Sterling Pacific

Aluminum Roller – Known as the Rolls Royce of Luggage, Sterling Pacific is the top choice for luxury travelers, frequent fliers, and pilots. Its aluminum body is lightweight and the Italian leather handles give it extra points for style. Plus it has a lifetime warranty.

4 Wheeled Roller : Our yellow   Voyageur Check-In 28  turned heads. We didn’t worry about anyone mixing up our bags on the conveyor belt with our unique color and design. We found the 28-inch a bit too large, but you can order 24? or 26?. But with the large handle and ultra-quite 360° spinner wheels it was super easy to navigate through the airport

Carry-on Roller : Pro Carry-on with Laptop Pocket  by Level8. We felt so chic going through the airport with these hard cases and modern design and it was easy t o  pop out my laptop and documents right from the front hard case pocket when going through security.

Travel Backpack : If you are heading to destinations that are less developed, you are going to want a reliable backpack. You will want something in the 55L size and it should be comfortable on your back. We recommend the Osprey Fairpoint for men and the Osprey Fairview for women.

Rolling Duffel Bag Eagle Creek Rolling Duffel – Duffel bags are lightweight and durable for rough terrain. We like the separate compartments for hiking boots and how it can still look elegant when going into higher-end hotels.

Messenger Bag Travelon Antitheft Messenger Bag   – Deb carries an over-the-shoulder bag that crosses over her body. It keeps valuables secure from any snatch and grabs and the RFID component helps with any cyber security.

Carry-on Backpack – We’ve recently started using this carry-on backpack by Standard Luggage. The 3 in 1 bag turns into a backpack, suitcase, and shoulder bag to suit your needs. It meets all airline cabin rules which is a bonus and expand from 35 – 45 L. Plus, it’s water resistant to help keep valuable electronics and camera gear safe.

In addition to your luggage, you are going to want to keep everything organized.

Organizing Your Luggage

The first thing you will want to purchase will be packing cubes. These are lightweight compression bags that can help you separate your different types of clothes and keep your bag organized.

  • Electronics Organizer
  • Toiletry Bag
  • Foldable Day Pack
  • Document Organizer

Pro Tip: When checking in at the airport, take your computers out of your carry-on bag and put them in a collapsible tote bag (we fold it in the front pocket of our carry-on.) That way it lightens your load should you be weighed, but it doesn’t look like an extra piece of luggage.

Travel Packing Lists for Clothes

Packing Hacks for Travel Clothes

Packing clothes can be the most confusing and frustrating experiences of all. What we have learned over the past 10 years fo traveling is to have a base set of close, or capsule wardrobe , consisting of pieces that can be mixed and matched. We then add on from there depending on the length of the trip, the weather at the destination, and if we are going carry-on only or not.

Capsule Wardrobe for Women

  • 1x Travel Skirt
  • 1x Convertible Pants
  • 2x Casual Pants (Usually 1 pair of leggings and 1 pair of pants that can be dressed up or down)
  • 1x Long-Sleeved Shirt (I may add one depending on the cultural norms of the country I am visiting.)
  • 4x Short-Sleeved Shirts or Blouses
  • 1x Bathing Suit
  • 1x Merino Wool Sweater or Fleece
  • 4-6x Sports Bras and Underwear
  • 1- Dress/Sundress
  • 2 Pairs of Shoes (1 casual pair and 1 hiking pair)
  • 4x Pairs of Socks (At least 2 are Merino Wool Hiking Socks)

Travel Accessories for Her

  • Buffs or headbands
  • Rain Jacket or Outer Shell

Capsule Wardrobe for Men

  • 1x Long Sleeve Shirt
  • 3x Short Sleeve Shirts
  • 2x Convertable Pants
  • 1x Lightweight pant or jeans
  • 2x Shorts (1 doubles as a bathing suit)
  • 4-6 Exofficio Underwear
  • 4x Pairs of Socks (At least 2 are Merino Wool )
  • 1x Merino Wool Sweater
  • 2x Pairs of Shoes (1 casual and 1 for hiking)

Travel Accessories for Him

  • Rain Jacket/Outer Shell

Pro Tip : If you are looking for a winter vacation planning list make sure to check out our How to Dress for Cold Weather article.

Checklist for Packing Toiletries

No travel packing list worth its weight would be complete without a comprehensive checklist for packing your toiletries. The first step is to make sure you have a good toiletry bag. We use this one as it is spacious, light, and hangs on the back of any door. To make it easier for you we have broken down to the travel essentials and the extras.

What to pack in your Toiletry Kit – Toiletry Essential Checklist

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Shampoo and Conditioner (We transfer ours in GoToobes for easier storage)
  • Tweezers and Nail Clippers
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Gold Bond Medicated Powder (for hot climates)
  • Face/Body Moisturizer
  • Chapstick/Lip Balm
  • Prescription Medication

Toiletry Extras Checklist

  • Hair products like hairspray and hair gel
  • Travel Mirror
  • Shaving Kit and razors
  • Pegless Clothesline
  • Travel Towel
  • Hairbrush or Tangle Teezer
  • Toothbrush Sanitizer

Read:  7 Tips for Stress-Free Travel  – here you will find a travel packing list of what we take in our care package on

Packing Checklist for Electronics

Packing List for a Vacation - Electronics

When it comes to electronics there are a lot of variables that will determine what you take and what you leave at home. In today’s day and age, there are certain things that everyone will want to take with them, and most of them will fit easily into your carry-on luggage. This checklist for packing electronics will give you the tools to bring back great memories and pack as light as possible.

  • World Travel Adaptor : Each country that you visit may have a different plug configuration. This adaptor has you covered for every country.
  • Belkin Mini Surge Protector : This is one piece of electronics we don’t leave home without. It protects your electronics against surges, has 3 plugs and 2 USB outlets for charging.
  • iPhone/Smartphone: We use the iPhone 11 Pro. : Almost a necessity in today’s world, a smartphone can come in handy in so many ways. You can use it as a camera, a place to store your itineraries and keep friends and family up to date on Social Media.
  • Travel Camera: Our recommendation would be the Sony RX100 VII : A good camera that fits in your pocket should be on everyone’s travel checklist. We recommend one that is small, lightweight, and can fit in your pocket.
  • Noise Cancelling Headphones: If you want to get any sleep on a plane or bus ride these are essential. We use Beats Studio 3 but some people prefer earbuds. Whichever you choose make sure they are good quality to drown out all that noise.
  • Portable Power Bank : The last thing you want to do is run out of power for your electronics when you are on the road. We carry a portable power back that keeps all of our electronics charged.
  • Memory Cards : Always pack spare memory cards so you don’t run out of space when you want to capture that perfect shot.

Optional Electronics

  • E-Reader or Kindle : If you are into books this is something you will want to add to your packing list.
  • Laptop (This is for extended trips) : We carry one everywhere as that is our business. We recommend you pack one for longer trips or if you are into taking a lot of photos and videos like us. We recommend the MacBook Air for most people.
  • External Hard Drive : Plan on taking a lot of videos and photos? Make sure you back them up so if something happens you don’t lose all your precious memories.
  • Drone: We use the Mavic Pro 2 : Add a whole new element to your memories with a drone. We have been using one for years and love it.
  • Portable Bluetooth Speaker : If you love music as much as we do you have to pack one of these for some tunes in your hotel room.
  • Travel Tripod : Whether it be for selfies or night photography you will be glad you have on in your bag for those unique situations.

Are you into Travel Photography? Make sure to check out my Travel Photography Gear Guide and find out what is in my camera bag.

Packing List for Comfort

Travel Packing Checklist - Travel comfort

If there is one thing we have learned after all of these years is that a little comfort goes a long way. Especially when you are traveling on airplanes and busses. By adding these travel accessories to your packing list you can rest assured you will be comfortable . All of these have been tested on long plane, train and bus rides so you know that they work.

  • Travel Pillow : After flying over 500,000 miles we have found the Trtl Neck travel pillow to be the best travel pillow out there. It is comfortable, gives great supports, and takes up almost no room in your bag.
  • Eye Mask and Ear Plugs : No plane flight would be complete without these. The Pretty Care Eye mask is what we recommend. IT doesn’t rest on your eyes, is padded, and blocks out all light.
  • Foldable Water Bottle : Staying hydrated on the plane is paramount to feeling refreshed when you arrive at your destination. WE fill this up after security so we always have water on the plane with us.
  • Sarong : We have found that plane blankets just don’t cut it. That is why we always have a sarong with us on the plane if the air is a little too cold and you want to bundle up.
  • Chapstick and hand moisturizer : WE all know how dry the plane gets. I pack this moisturizing kit so that my hands and face stay moisturized throughout the flight.
  • Flight Flap Phone and Tablet Holder : WE discovered this last year and fell in love with it. No more sore necks from watching movies on your phone and tablet. This hangs on the back of the seat so you can watch in comfort.
  • Travel Socks : I started using compression socks because they prevent DVT. I know more than a few people who have gotten DVT and this can be very serious. Compression socks help prevent blood clots and are highly recommended.

Packing List for First Aid Kit

Checklist for packing First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is an essential piece of travel gear. We have a n extensive first aid kit as we do a lot of adventures, but most people can get by with the essentials. You can buy pre-made first aid kits. This compact first aid kit  is a good start but it is just as easy to make one at home from your medicine cabinet. That way you only pack what you need.

  • Prescription Medication – with a photocopy of our prescriptions
  • Insect repellent 
  • Advil or Tylenol for pain relief
  • Gravol – for nausea  
  • Benadryl and Claritin – For allergic reactions
  • Allergy Eyedrops
  • Imodium – for mild diarrhea
  • Rehydration tablets and electrolyte tables – in case of dehydration or severe diarrhea.
  • Topical Ointment like Polysporin or prescription Fucidin Cream – For cuts and scrapes
  • Antiseptic spray – it’s important to clean cuts quickly, especially in tropical climates. 
  • Moleskin – protects your skin from blisters.
  • Thermometer
  • Do you want to be prepared for every travel emergency? Check out our Ultimate First Aid Kit Packing List.

Travel Documents

Keeping your essential travel documents in order and organized can really take the stress out of travel. Using a travel organizer allows you to all the things you need in one convenient place.

  • Passport and Visas- Make sure to have an electronic copy of both in case yours gets lost.
  • Personal ID like a drivers license
  • Bank cards, Credit Cards. Keep a contact number for your bank and credit card companies in your phone for emergencies.
  • Emergency cash: We suggest 1 days worth of USD.
  • Frequent Flier cards
  • Travel Insurance documents, policy number , and contact information.
  • Immunization records if needed.
  • Itineraries or reservations- either printed out or stored in an app like Tripit.
  • Boarding passes
  • Emergency contact information.
  • Guide book or maps- in either hard copy or digital copy.

Travel Security

Travel Safety Packing List

Travel security is something we should all take seriously. Most problems tend to occur in bigger cities and in the form of pickpockets or petty theft. If you add these items to the travel packing list it might help deter would-be thieves.

  • RFID Wallet: Protects against RFID Skimming, which is a form of theft using wireless transmitters to gain information to your credit and debit card identification chips. They can do it just by walking by.
  • Money belt or neck wallet: We used these in the early days and they can be useful in the big cities where there are a lot of pickpockets.
  • PacSafe Luggage Lock: This is perfect if you are staying in hostels or guesthouses.
  • Luggage tracker: Give you peace of mind and lets you track your luggage if it gets lost.

More Anti-Theft Suggestions: If you want to get more in-depth about protecting your valuables when you travel check out THE BEST ANTI THEFT TRAVEL BAGS AND ACCESSORIES

Pre-Trip Checklist

Regardless of whether you are going on an extended trip or just a 2 week vacation there are a few things you are going to want to do before you board the plane. We have a complete pre-travel checklist that you can see here.

  • Call your banks and credit card companies to tell them of your travel plans. This will avoid cards being flagged for purchases in another country.
  • Check baggage restrictions
  • Check to see if there are any Visa requirements
  • Check Immunization requirements
  • Leave flight and travel itineraries with a friend or relative.
  • Check-in online or check flight information before leaving for the airport.

And there you have it. Our complete international travel packing list. We have done our best to answer all your travel packing questions and give you some packing tips that you can use on your next vacation. After years of traveling around the world, we hope that our extensive experience helps you when you are deciding what to pack for your next big adventure.

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The Ultimate Travel Packing List

Looking for more packing tips?

If you liked our ultimate travel packing list, why not check out some other great packing lists and travel tips travel that will be sure to help you out on your next trip.

  • The Ultimate Camping Packing List : All the essentials you will need for your next camping trip.
  • The Ultimate European Vacation Packing List : Great packing tips for your next trip to Europe.
  • The Only Pre-Travel Checklist You Will Ever Need Everything you will need to do before you head to the airport for your next vacation.
  • The Best Anti Theft Travel Bags and Accessories : Tips and recommendations on what you need to stay organized while traveling.

You May Also Like These Helpful Travel Planners

  • Packing for Travel – 6 Tips to Make Your Trip a Breeze
  • The Best Travel Gear – Unique Ideas for Smart Packing
  • Travel Photography Gear Guide: What’s In My Camera Bag?
  • Do I Really Need Travel Medical Insurance?
  • How We Choose Travel Insurance To Best Suit Our Needs
  • Essential Tips for Essential Travel
  • 10 Must Have Items to Make Air Travel Easy

What else would you add to our travel packing list? Add them in the comments below.

Disclosure:  The links above are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. We receive affiliate commissions, but it’s no extra cost to you!

Travel Planning Resources

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Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine , the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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29 thoughts on “The Ultimate Travel Packing List (By Professional Travellers)”

This is very good content, images to perfect articles, hope you will share more in the future for everyone to see. Thank you very much.

Goig to Machu Pichu in Feb 2020.. 67 yrs young, not a regular hiker. Can you help me with packing list please? Also Amazon headwaters then to coast to relax by ocean for couple of days.

Hi I’m travelling from Australia to India for 2 weeks and will be visitng Dharamashala, Bodh Gaya and Dehli (2 nights)? I am 21yo, well I will be when I leave on 15 January. I am travelling with 7 others. I will be sharing a room with another lady, which I am pleased about as I can be prone to anxiety. Could you please help me with a packing list? Also do you think I should purchase a back pack that will protect my cards from being scanned? Do you recommend some type of money bag/sleeve that I can safely hold my money and passport? Thanks and sorry for all the questions, I don’t want to be caught out!

Excellent blog post, and thank you for sharing some very helpful thoughts!!! Best of luck with your travels.

if you are only using a carry-on, you cannot take tweezers, or small scissors. They were taken away from me when I had them in a carry-on.

Actually I have affiliate links for both booking.com and lonely planet, but only on my guides section. The booking.com link works well, $15 for whenever somebody uses my link. On top of it, I do my own hotel bookings through my own link, so I’m actually giving myself a $15 discount 🙂 I only have these links on a very small section of my blog, totally agree with not doing too much of it early on. I’ve seen too many blogs that I previously enjoying selling out to advertising and turning into what looks like an online Casino site 🙂 Frank (bbqboy)

Great to hear Frank! Thanks for sharing.

Hey guys – we ended up going to the Bay and getting a couple of rolling duffels. Plus they had a special over the weekend and picked up bags that were usually $600 each (we went for the higher end models) at 50% off. So great tip about the Bay. Yes, I should be smarter about affiliate links on the blog. I’ve been a bit lazy on the monetization aspect… Frank

That’s fantastic! The Bay is great isn’t it? I love shopping there. Every time I go to the checkout, they always have a surprise discount. Even when it’s advertised on the item that it’s on sale, they seem to have another deeper discount at the desk. I think it’s one of the best places to shop for luggage. Best of luck with affiliates. It took us years to get around to it. You really need traffic to make it happen as you don’t make much off of each item. It’s base more on volume than sales. With Amazon it’s something like 4%. But it’s nice to get a bit of extra in the pockets if you can supply your readers with something of value.

Great! Have one right downtown next to the optometrist I’m seeing today. Thanks!

Perfect. Hope your eyes are doing well 🙂 The bay always has amazing deals on luggage.

I have seen so many of such type of blogs which contains these packing lists. But all of them possesses the same sort of things in the list. You have done such a wonderful job of adding some brilliant things, which can be very useful in any tour. I really appreciate your work.

Thank you for the kind words. We had a lot of fun putting it together. I just went through my bag and started making a list. It was a lot of work, but I think it’s worth it.

Wow…really great packing list especially with the images, never seen this before. It would be great if you can create a smartphone app 🙂

I was never a fan of these packing list posts. But we’ve been travelling non-stop now for a year and have had so many frustrations with our gear. Besides too much stuff (inefficient clothing mostly) our carrying bags (backpacks) just so damn heavy. Like you say, you can go light when travelling for a couple of weeks but when you’re gone for a year you’re going to be carrying more. We’ll be back in Canada next week and one of the many things we have to do during our month there is to re-organize our whole baggage/packing situation. I know I’m asking for a lot here – but any idea where in Montreal we can get some of those Travel bags? I’m not one to buy stuff online, have to see it with my own eyes. Informative post! Frank (bbqboy)

HI Frank, We bought our rolling duffles at The Bay, they always have amazing deals.

Some great ideas here, but I cant fathom traveling with this much stuff or luggage. I take much shorter trips, but do everything in a 20″ expandable rollaboard and daypack.

My concern with packing camera gear in a larger back is what if you are forced to check that bag? Even runway check the bag? My Crumpler camera bag and laptop fit in the daypack so even if I am forced to check the rollaboard, I have my breakables in the smaller bag to carry on the plane.

I do what Stuart mentioned in the above comment. I have a list for a carryon beach/adventure vacation; a list for the checked bag adventure/beach vacation; lists for carryon and checked city vacations and a business trip packing list. All of these can be altered for the weather/sports at the location.

There’s certainly some good kit on this list. A friend of mine swears that the best way to pack is to maintain lists for different types of destination (i.e. one for winter sports and another for beach vacations) and refer to them while packing. I still pack on an ad hoc basis! Enjoy your travels.

Some great tips here guys! I wish I had read one of these before I first hit the road seven years ago! – certainly would have changed what I took! These days, as long as I have my knife and my head torch; I know I’m pretty much ready for any adventure 🙂

Great article Dave and Deb! You guys are travel experts so if you like our clothes we know we’re doing something right. We look forward to continuing following your travels!

I like it so much. Each time I travel and expect long hour travel by plane, I make sure I have a jet lag cure like JetlagFX. It’s a great supplement and works well for me.

I just got a sample pack of JetlagFX, I can’t wait to try it out.

Great lists! As someone who packs light when I travel, I like how you categorized everything and stuck to the basics.

Thanks. We aren’t the lightest packers since we are on the road constantly, but for we find this list does everything we need without too much extraneous weight.

Great article!! i am a girl so is difficult for me to make a Packing list , but i really think that i have to make one the next trip because i always travel with a lot of stuff in my bags.

Wow, it really is a long list of things…. Bags, organizers, clothes, gears………. simply amazing By the way, Deb looks dashing on the image carrying luggage…

Holy moly, that is the motherload of packing lists. I’m bookmarking it for later. I’m particularly interested in your photography and electronics. I have only just started making enough money writing to even begin to think about traveling and writing full time, but I just don’t know where to begin. Thanks for this awesomely detailed post.

Great post! I need some organization in packing wisely when traveling. My favorite was the travel organizers. I probably would not need as much electronic gear as you have. My iPhone is sufficient enough for me when taking pictures. They come out pretty good. Some of your other ideas are great. We usually check on locations for laundry when traveling for any length of time. This too can cut down on the amount that you have to pack. The downside is that it may take up some of your time to do the laundry.

wow great information. i like this list for travel packing.

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Simply use one of our travel search engines to scan for prices gathered from hundreds of travel sites. KAYAK’s search results pages have loads of filter options to help you find deals, discover exactly what you’re looking for and make booking seamless. Plus, there’s no extra fee from KAYAK.

What makes KAYAK a great travel app?

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How can I use KAYAK to manage my travel bookings?

KAYAK Trips creates a travel itinerary for you that will give you flight status alerts, can be shared with friends and more. Simply forward your booking confirmations to [email protected] or use the KAYAK app and sync your email account to keep all your travel plans organized in one app, even if you didn’t book with KAYAK. You can share your holiday plans with friends and family and also check out your travel stats for past vacations, like how far you’ve traveled, your most popular cities and how many times you’ve traveled around the world. Even if you don’t have signal, don’t worry, as you can access Trips to check out your itineraries whilst on the road. Your data is safe and secure with us and you won’t have to re-enter credit card info when booking future trips. If you want to make changes or cancel bookings, then you should contact the travel provider, which is provided on the booking confirmation.

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The Best Sleeping Pills for Flights—And When You Should Take Them

By Moira Lawler

Image may contain Adult Person Clothing Footwear Shoe Face and Head

If  noise-canceling headphones  don’t help you doze off, you may need to consider a more heavy-duty fix: sleeping pills for flights. Certainly, some flights don’t warrant sleeping aids—such as when you’re taking a short trip or traveling west against a time difference, says Aneesa Das, M.D. , a sleep medicine specialist at the Ohio State University (at that point you may as well stay awake). But if you’ll be on a plane overnight and waking up in a vastly different time zone, logging some shuteye on the plane is crucial to arriving refreshed—or close enough to it.

That’s when sleeping pills can help. For most people, they're a reliable solution if they have trouble sleeping on planes , and they’re always a better option than ordering wine when the beverage cart rolls around. “Alcohol will allow you to fall asleep more quickly, however most people will then experience very disrupted and fragmented sleep quality,” says Thomas Kilkenny, M.D. , director of the Institute of Sleep Medicine at Staten Island University Hospital.

Here's what you should know—according to medical experts—about the most common sleeping pills for flights, including side effects to be aware of before you pop one.

This article has been updated with new information since its original publish date.

Ambien—the most powerful option on this list—is available by prescription only and works as a  sedative-hypnotic medication  that slows your brain activity to make you feel very sleepy. It’ll knock you out good—maybe even  too  good. Some users experience retroactive amnesia, which means you could wake up mid-flight, have a full conversation with the  flight attendant , and have no memory of it when morning comes, Das says.

Ambien can also lead to sleepwalking, which could result in some awkward bump-ins on the plane. “This is especially true if combined with alcohol or if not enough time is allowed for sleep,” Kilkenny says. He recommends having at least six or seven hours to sleep in order for the drug to metabolize, so avoid taking it on a short flight or when you have only a few hours to go before landing. But it's not all bad: Zolpidem (the generic name for Ambien) has been shown to fight off jet lag, per a 2018 review article published in Springer . Lunesta and Sonata are two other prescription-only sleep aids which work similarly to Ambien (they’re collectively known as Z-drugs).

Rozerem (the brand name for ramelteon) is another medication available by prescription, but it isn’t as aggressive as Ambien. “It’s a melatonin receptor stimulant and is unrelated to the Z-pills,” Kilkenny says. It may be a more attractive option for travelers as it reaches peak levels quickly and has a very short half-life, which means it won’t linger in your system as long. You’ll want to take an 8 milligram (mg) dose 30 minutes before you want to doze off. It likely won’t knock you out as well as Ambien, but research published in the Journal of Central Nervous System Disease in 2011 suggests that it will regulate your sleep-wake cycle to help your circadian rhythm adjust to a new time zone. Plus, it doesn’t come with the nasty side effects of the Z-drugs, Kilkenny says.

The over-the-counter medication is easy to pick up at the drugstore when you’re stocking up on travel-sized shampoos and other carry-on essentials . Diphenhydramine, the same antihistamine found in Benadryl, will likely put you to sleep, though you may pay the price once you land. “It makes us feel really groggy when we wake up, and it can make us feel really hungover,” Das says. The antihistamine may also leave you with a dry mouth that those tiny airplane cups of water just can’t quench (not a good situation since flying in general can make you dehydrated). Still, Das says it’s okay to take so long as you’ve tolerated it in the past.

This hormone occurs naturally in the body, but taking an extra dose helps induce sleep and  adjust your circadian clock . That will help you function better at your destination and decrease the effects of jet lag, Kilkenny says. Start taking melatonin a few days before your trip, about four to six hours before your bedtime, so that you’re ready to hit the pillow 30 minutes to an hour earlier than normal, Das says.

A  2002 review from UK researchers  found melatonin decreases jet lag if you take it close to your target bedtime at your destination, especially if you’re traveling across five or more time zones. The researchers found doses of 0.5 and 5 mg were equally effective at  preventing jet lag , though the larger (maximum) dose will help you fall asleep quicker and sleep better.

Another plus? There are no major side effects to worry about—melatonin shifts the circadian rhythm with minimal side effects, the Springer article found. (Note: The FDA does regulate dietary supplements such as melatonin, but these regulations are less strict than those for prescription or over-the-counter medications. Check with your doctor for an appropriate recommendation.)

No matter which medication you decide to go with (if any), there are a few ground rules to follow. First, give it a test run at home. “You want to know how your body tolerates it before you go,” Das says. Then, once you’re settled into your seat, remember to  pass on booze  and don’t pop the medicine until the flight attendants have gone over  safety instructions .

Condé Nast Traveler does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.

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These are the 10 best — and worst — US airlines of 2024, according to WalletHub

plane travel list

Corrections & Clarifications: A previous version of this article mischaracterized the flight cancellation rates for American and Southwest airlines. 

Choosing flights can be a challenge, especially when balancing affordable fares with the need for in-flight comfort, safety and peace of mind.

Personal finance company WalletHub recently issued a ranking that can serve as a guide for consumers. Its 2024 list of the best U.S. airlines compares nine large airlines and one regional carrier across 13 factors affecting affordability, reliability, comfort and safety.

Four airlines earned a score of 60 or higher: Alaska Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, Spirit Airlines and Delta Air Lines. Alaska was named the best overall airline, as well as the second safest.

Here are highlights of WalletHub's best airlines of 2024 ranking.

Alaska Airlines is WalletHub's top airline of 2024

WalletHub awarded the highest overall score to Alaska Airlines, which earned a score of 68.07 out of a possible 100.

Its data showed Alaska had the second-best safety score, third-best comfort and reliability, and fourth-best affordability.

WalletHub's data predated the Jan. 5, 2024, incident where a door plug blew out on one of Alaska's Boeing 737 MAX 9 jets. Alaska's position at the top of the list despite that mishap speaks to Alaska's resilience and high quality, WalletHub analyst Cassandra Happe said.

"Even though incidents like the door plug blowout can raise concerns, Alaska Airlines has demonstrated resilience and continues to prioritize safety and quality service, reinforcing its reputation as a top-performing carrier," Happe said.

Spirit is the most affordable airline; Delta, JetBlue are most comfortable

Spirit earned the best marks for affordability and safety.

Delta and JetBlue Airways were considered the best for comfort, with Delta also leading for reliability because of its low rates of cancellations, delays, mishandled luggage and denied boardings.

American and Southwest rank low on WalletHub's best airlines list

American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, which collectively operate about 70% of the flights at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, were among the airlines with the lowest scores in WalletHub's analysis.

American ranked No. 8 with a score of 46.52. Southwest was last on the list, No. 10 with a score of 36.03, one spot below ultra-low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines.

Reliability issues such as canceled and delayed flights, mishandled baggage and denied boardings explain their low ranks, Happe said.

American, Southwest had the lowest percentage of canceled flights

WalletHub found American and Southwest had the lowest percentage of canceled flights relative to the number of regularly scheduled flights, citing 2023 flight data from the U.S. Department of Transportation. American's cancellation rate was 0.11%, while Southwest followed with 0.23%.

"Overall, both airlines performed well in minimizing flight cancellations, but ranked relatively lower in other categories leading to its overall ranking," WalletHub spokeswoman Diana Polk said.

During this period, Southwest suffered widespread disruptions during the 2022 Christmas and New Year's holidays, when glitches with its crew scheduling software combined with winter storms affecting their Chicago and Denver hubs resulted in 16,700 flight cancellations.

Southwest and other airlines have since improved their infrastructure and how they respond to weather disruptions to reduce delays and cancellations. Their work bore positive results, as there were no major issues during Thanksgiving and Christmas 2023.

WalletHub's best airlines of 2024

  • Alaska Airlines (68.07 out of 100)
  • SkyWest Airlines (65.96)
  • Spirit Airlines (65.69)
  • Delta Air Lines (61.56)
  • United Airlines (51.96)
  • JetBlue Airways (51.6)
  • Hawaiian Airlines (48.3)
  • American Airlines (46.52)
  • Frontier Airlines (43.57)
  • Southwest Airlines (36.03)

New flights at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport for 2024

Also of interest if you're planning to fly from Phoenix this year, airlines continue to add new routes , like Frontier Airlines' new cheap flights to Missoula, Montana , and Los Cabos, Mexico , and Breeze Airways' seasonal flights to Norfolk, Virginia .

Michael Salerno is an award-winning journalist who’s covered travel and tourism since 2014. His work as The Arizona Republic’s consumer travel reporter aims to help readers navigate the stresses of traveling and get the best value for their money on their vacations. He can be reached at  [email protected] . Follow him on X, formerly Twitter:  @salerno_phx .

Support local journalism.   Subscribe to  azcentral.com  today.

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The Ultimate Packing List for Flying With Kids

From activity books to wipes galore, everything you need for your next flight with kids.

Alesandra Dubin is an LA-based lifestyle writer and editor. As a veteran digital journalist, she's covered travel, food, parenting, and more for over 15 years. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, TripSavvy, and countless other online and print outlets. An avid traveler, she often trots the globe with her husband and their twins. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @alicedubin. Alesandra holds a master's degree in journalism with an emphasis on cultural reporting and criticism from NYU, and a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley.

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In This Article

  • Packing Checklist

Tips for Packing

Frequently asked questions.

  • Why Trust T+L

Travel + Leisure / Reese Herrington

The trick to flying with young kids? Careful preparation. Our writer has traveled the world with twins, and she knows that flying with children can be miserable if you don't bring the right items on board with you. But with the right tools, a flight with your youngsters is not just feasible but can even be fun. We've rounded up all the supplies you’ll need for feeding, cleaning, soothing, and entertaining little ones — plus transporting all that cargo. So use this guide to prepare properly for your next family flight .

Packing Checklist for Flying With Kids

We've broken down all categories of things you’ll need to pack when flying with children and included the exact items we’d recommend.

Read more about our specific recommendations below and start your own checklist, too.


  • Best Tablet: Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Tablet
  • Best Headphones: Puro Sound Labs BT2200s Kids’ Bluetooth Headphones
  • Best Tech Stand: Airglo Cell Phone and Tablet Holder
  • Best Coloring Book: Unicorn Imagine Ink Magic Ink Book
  • Best Book: "Where’s Waldo? The Fantastic Journey"
  • Best Activity Book: On the Plane Activity Book
  • Best Craft: Purple Ladybug Wax Craft Sticks
  • Best Game: Magnetic Travel Games
  • Best Set: Mini Voyager 4-7 Jetsetter Travel Kit
  • Best Sound Machine: Frida Baby Portable 2-in-1 Sound Machine
  • Best Pillow and Blanket: Roamwild Kids Travel Pillow and Travel Blanket Set
  • Best Portable Bed: Flyaway Kids Bed

Food and Drink

  • Best Reusable Water Bottle: Yeti 12-ounce Kids Water Bottle
  • Best Lollipops: Ring Pops (20 Count)
  • Best Snacks: Healthy Snacks Variety Pack
  • Best Snack Activity: Fred Match Up Memory Snack Tray
  • Best Changing Pad: SkipHop Portable Baby Changing Pad
  • Best Multi-purpose Wipes: Hello Bello Unscented Baby Wipes
  • Best Face Wipes: Baby Wipes by Boogie Wipes
  • Best Surface Wipes: Lysol Disinfecting Surface Wipes
  • Best Hand Sanitizer: Kinia 8-pack Hand Sanitizer Holders
  • Best Diaper Bag: Dagne Dover Indi Diaper Backpack
  • Best Crossbody Bag: Kibou Vegan Leather Fanny Pack Diaper Bag
  • Best Kids Backpack: Herschel Backpack Kids 9L
  • Best Wheeled Backpack: Jansport Driver 8 Backpack
  • Best Carry-on Suitcase: Rockland London Hardside 20-inch Spinner
  • Best Ride-on Suitcase: Jetkids by Stokke Bedbox 19-inch Ride-on Carry-on


  • Best Luggage Trackers: Apple AirTags
  • Best First Aid Kit: PreparaKit Take Along First-aid Kit
  • Best Storage Bags: Hefty Slider Storage Bags

T+L's Top Picks and Tips


Entertaining kids is absolutely critical to keeping the peace on any flight. For babies and younger kids, one rule of thumb is to think of entertainment in 15-minute increments; bring enough options to rotate activities often. For older or generally tech-minded kids? Well, the magic power of screens sure comes in handy.

Best Tablet

Amazon fire hd 10 kids edition.

Why We Love It: This tablet has plenty of storage space and comes in a virtually indestructible case.

What to Consider: This isn’t as full-featured as, say, an iPad, so kids will outgrow it eventually.

Tablets are great for long-stretch occupation — just be sure to download your child's favorite shows and movies ahead of time rather than relying on airplane wifi to stream. Amazon’s Fire for kids simpler and less expensive than standard adult versions, and it comes with an indestructible, kid-friendly case with a stand. The Fire HD 10 also includes a two-year guarantee and a yearlong subscription to Amazon Kids+. We find this to be a great investment to keep children from ages 3 to 5 occupied.

Best Headphones

Puro sound labs bt2200s volume limited kids headphones.

Why We Love It: These Bluetooth headphones have a safe maximum volume for kids.

What to Consider: They are pricier than some alternative kids' headphones.

In the same way that you’ll likely lean hard on that tablet to keep kids occupied, you'll depend on quality kids' headphones to go with it. This compact but powerful pair is made to protect early hearing damage by following the World Health Organization’s recommendation of an 85dB-limited volume range. The Bluetooth capability has a 30-foot range of movement so the child can feel free to move about the cabin, too.The lightweight, durable headphones come in nine fun colors.

Best Tech Stand

Airglo airplane travel essentials.

Why We Love It: This universal tech holder is a great hands-free solution for use in planes, cars, and more.

What to Consider: It might not be the most secure stand for larger phones or tablets.

This nifty gadget is the brainchild of a flight attendant who saw a need for a phone stand that would allow passengers to watch movies and TV shows on long flights. Now kids can also watch on your devices hands-free with this tool that fits any brand’s gadgets. It folds fairly flat when not in use, and this lightweight stand could also be repurposed to hang a bag on a chair or tray table.

Best Coloring Book

Bendon unicorn imagine ink magic ink book.

Why We Love It: This compact book is small, self-contained, and mess-free.

What to Consider: The cover is slightly misleading: This book isn’t actually full of unicorn themes.

These invisible ink activity books are self-contained — no crayon collection to roll under plane seats — and guaranteed mess-free. Kids just use the Imagine Ink marker to stay busy with 16 pages of games, all in a portable-size book just right for tossing in a travel bag. We've found invisible ink books particularly effective for children aged 3 to 6.

Where's Waldo? The Fantastic Journey Paperback

Why We Love It: This book is challenging for kids of all ages (including pre-readers) and delivers on a healthy dose of nostalgia for parents as well.

What to Consider: A book will never be as tempting as a tablet for tech-addled kids.

Books that challenge little ones keep them entertained. And Where’s Waldo does just that — even for kids who aren’t reading yet. The paperback book is not only small and lightweight for travel, but its journey motif fits in nicely with vacation adventures, too.

Best Activity Book

On the plane activity book.

Why We Love It: This lightweight book gets kids excited about their flight, with plane-themed games and activities.

What to Consider: You’ll need to bring and keep track of your own coloring implements.

Engage kids in the excitement of travel with this activity book that has an airplane journey theme. Think: spot the identical pilots on their way through the airport, true-or-false airplane and flying facts, and more. Just pack a pencil (or probably two).

Purple Ladybug Wax Craft Sticks for Kids

Why We Love It: This generously stocked wax stick kit has plenty of sticks to share between or among siblings.

What to Consider: You'll probably leave some sticks on the floor and in the seats.

This set of wax craft sticks will be a novelty for most kids, and waxy sticks won’t roll away as easily as crayons or markers. This kit comes with 300 sticks in 15 colors and two different lengths, plenty for multiple siblings to have a go. Kids can endlessly shape and reshape them with no noise and no mess.

The Purple Cow Magnetic Animal Homes Matching Puzzle

Why We Love It: Magnetic pieces keep this tin game set together for play on the go.

What to Consider: Pieces are only magnetic on one side.

Nothing’s more frustrating than trying to travel with a game that’s rendered immediately useless after some essential piece slides irretrievably under an airplane or car seat. This compact game set provides a frustration-free alternative with magnets that keep everything together. We recommend it for children over 2.

Mini Voyager 4-7y Jetsetter Travel Kit

Mini Voyage

Why We Love It: This kit combines a customized array of kids entertainment items into one grab-and-go bundle.

What to Consider: You may save money by finding and buying all of these items separately (if you have the time and inclination).

If creating a DIY bag of entertainment ideas for every flight seems like a lot of work, buy this kit, which compiles it all for you in one convenient bundle. Choose from multiple items to build your own customized pack based on your kid’s interests and ages, including stickers, books, toys, and games.

When kids don’t get adequate rest, the whole thing goes off the rails in a hurry — for everyone. In addition to comfy clothes and layers, these packable items help keep children warm, soothed, and rested on the plane.

Best Sound Machine

Fridababy 2-in-1 portable sound machine.

Why We Love It: This portable sound machine also has a nightlight, and it hooks onto a tray table hinge or arm rest.

What to Consider: It can be hard to differentiate the buttons in the dark.

This little machine produces five soothing sounds for kids, including shushing and a heartbeat. It has an adjustable strap, so you can hook it onto an arm rest or or tray table hinge, or a car seat or stroller once off the plane. During your flight, just but be mindful of using anything beyond pink noise in flight out of respect to your fellow passengers. Conveniently, it also has a nightlight with three glow levels which could help you locate items in a dimmed cabin, too.

Best Pillow and Blanket

Roamwild kids travel pillow.

Why We Love It: This cute and cuddly set is a pillow, blanket, and toy all in one.

What to Consider: While the sleeve-style cover adds comfort to an armrest, it’s still an armrest — so it may be too firm for some kids’ tastes.

A travel pillow and blanket are always useful tools in keeping children cozy for long flights. This one has a niche feature: After you remove the blanket, the sleeve-style toy slides over any armrest to transform it into a kids’ pillow. So, it’s a penguin toy, a comfy pillow, and a warm blanket, all in one cute and compact package.

Best Portable Bed

Flyaway kids bed.

Why We Love It: Not just a place to sleep, this comfy surface also keeps toys and accessories from rolling onto the floor.

What to Consider: You’ll be happy to have it on the plane, but then you’ll be committed to traveling with it for the duration of your trip.

When kids are overtired, everyone loses. And a tool like this can be just the ticket for helping them sleep on long flights. The bed for babies, toddlers, and little kids inflates in 90 seconds and deflates quickly, too. It comes in a carry bag with a pump included, and it can be wiped clean.

When it comes to traveling with kids, you’ll always need more snacks than you think. Think you’ve packed enough? Great, now double it. And don’t forget a refillable water bottle to kep your kiddo hydrated.

Best Reusable Water Bottle

Yeti rambler jr. kids bottle.

Why We Love It: This water bottle is impressively leakproof and made to withstand a beating.

What to Consider: The bottle itself is heavy, especially compared to its relatively small 12-ounce payload.

Staying hydrated with kids while traveling is a must, and this water bottle means business. The Yeti is durable, spill proof, and double-wall insulated to keep drinks cold (or warm) for hours. Plus, a straw cap makes it easy for kids to sip on the go.

Best Lollipops

Ring pop individually wrapped bulk lollipop variety party pack.

Why We Love It: It acts as both a snack and a bribe — er, reward , that is — and can help reduce ear discomfort on planes.

What to Consider: Nope, there’s no nutritional value here!

Lollipops and their ilk are a multifunction tool for traveling with kids: It’s a snack! It’s a reward! It keeps them busy! And the act of swallowing while sucking on them can also ease ear pressure on takeoff and landing. Even better, Ring Pops are a smart, toy-like alternative to stick lollies for hands-free holding.

Best Snacks

Stuff your sack healthy snacks variety pack organic care package.

Why We Love It: This variety pack includes 18 different flavors to keep kids interested.

What to Consider: The packaged snacks may be organic, but they are still processed food.

Having kids means having snacks handy at all times; traveling makes it all the more necessary to keep kids fed and comfortable to combat whining. This variety pack includes 25 organic packaged snacks from 19 different brands; 18 different flavors keep them intrigued as little surprises unfold throughout a long journey.

Best Snack Activity

Fred match up memory snack tray.

Why We Love It: Dispensing snacks this way keeps the experience fun for kids — and prolongs the process to keep them busy, too.

What to Consider: Make sure your child is able to push buttons.

Snacks serve two important functions: nutrition and amusement. For that reason, try to prolong these food breaks as a way to keep kids busy and amused. Try putting different snacks into this fun tray with compartments; it’s fun for littles to discover treats behind each door, and it adds time to the whole process. For slightly older toddlers and children, you can make a memory game out of it.

Keeping kids clean — and cleaning up after them — has long been a top concern among traveling parents. A global pandemic only underscored the importance of traveling with wipes and sanitizer.

Best Changing Pad

Skip hop pronto changing station.

Why We Love It: When you travel with your own changing pad, you’re guaranteed a non-public surface no matter where you are.

What to Consider: A separate changing pad may not be necessary if you have a diaper bag that comes with one.

Change a diaper on the go without fear of exposing baby to gross, public surfaces. This changing pad takes the form of a clutch, with a large mesh pocket that holds four diapers and accessories, plus a translucent wipes case. A front zipper pocket holds essentials like keys and cash. Drop it in any bag, or clip it on a travel stroller or luggage handle instead.

Best Multi-purpose Wipes

Hello bello unscented baby wipes.

Why We Love It: You can use these extra-soft baby wipes on just about everything.

What to Consider: These full-size packs aren’t tiny.

Is there nothing a baby wipe can't do? From diaper changes to on-the-go hand cleaning to wiping up half-eaten miscellany, traveling with baby wipes is a must. These are super soft with aloe and chamomile extract — and no alcohol, synthetic fragrances, phthalates, or parabens.

Best Face Wipes

Boogie wipes.

Why We Love It: These hypoallergenic, ultra-soft saline wipes are great for cleaning snotty faces and even clearing airways.

What to Consider: If you don’t want to pack a bag full of different wipe options, this specialty product might be the first to go.

With kids, runny noses are just about guaranteed for chunks of the year, and they're even more likely when you add in the fatigue and exposure from traveling. These hypoallergenic and alcohol-free cloths are designed expressly for nose-wiping, with gentle saline, vitamin E, aloe, and chamomile to soothe sensitive skin.

Best Surface Wipes

Lysol disinfecting wipes to-go pack.

Why We Love It: You’ll find tons of uses for this travel-sized package of wipes when traveling through public spaces with (or without) kids.

What to Consider: These are ideal for surfaces, but they are not for use on kids’ faces.

These germ-busting wipes are ideal for cleaning nonporous surfaces like a tray tables or seatback entertainment screens, and they're a must for both safety and peace of mind when traveling with littles known to touch everything.

Best Hand Sanitizer

Kinia 8 pack empty mixed kids hand sanitizer.

Why We Love It: These cute and colorful hand sanitizer holders keep gel easy to access for frequent cleanups.

What to Consider: Be advised these containers come empty, so you’ll need to fill with your favorite brand.

In addition to wipes, hand sanitizer is a must for quick cleaning on the go. Keep your gel handy by filling these colorful jelly wrap silicone carriers. The 1-ounce, flip-top-cap bottles attach with adjustable silicone cords to backpacks, diaper bags, and just about anywhere else.

Depending on kids’ ages and sizes, they may be candidates to tote their own cargo. Backpacks, rolling bags, and even ride-on options help keep the process moving smoothly. Adults, on the other hand, can benefit from bags that keep hands free in case they need to carry tired children or hold little hands along the way.

Best Diaper Bag

Dagne dover indi diaper backpack.

Why We Love It: This bag is sleek, chic, and unisex, and it delivers on functionality with tons of specialized compartments.

What to Consider: It's spacious and deep, so smaller items can be hard to spot in a hurry (and when are you not in a hurry when traveling with kids?).

Traveling with kids means prioritizing performance in a diaper bag ; we're huge fans of Dagne Dover because the brand fuses functionality with style so well. Done in chic, 100-percent vegan neoprene, this backpack-style diaper bag also clips to a stroller upon arrival. It includes a mini changing mat and extra pouches, with an extra zipper opening for easy access to wipes.

Best Crossbody Bag

Kibou diaper bag.

Why We Love It: This crossbody doubles as a compact diaper bag for hands-free convenience.

What to Consider: A diaper bag this small obviously isn’t a feasible option for longer outings or multiple babies, so consider your usage.

This vegan-leather waist pack, which extends into a crossbody, is a great choice for traveling through airports and wearing on the plane. The ultra-compact diaper bag has tons of features so you can travel hands free: A built-in waterproof pocket holds 20 wipes wet for up to a week, a detachable changing pad unfolds from the back flap, a hook holds a pacifier or key, slots secure credit cards or cash, and the nylon lining is wipeable and stain resistant. It's even possible to use this as a regular bag once your little ones are out of diapers, too.

Best Kids Backpack

Herschel heritage backpack | kids.

Why We Love It: Encouraging kids to carry their own backpack builds independence while keeping the family’s cargo moving.

What to Consider: This kid-size version is best for ages 3 to 7; move up to youth size for older kids.

Herschel has just the right size backpack for children preschool age and up to carry their own gear — both to help out the family and to develop a bit of self reliance. This kid-proportioned version is just 13 inches high and has a removable sternum support strap. The next size up is right for youths ages 8 to 12 and, at 15 inches high, it also features a 13-inch laptop or tablet sleeve.

Best Wheeled Backpack

Jansport driver 8 core series wheeled backpack.

Why We Love It: A rolling backpack keeps the weight off kids’ backs and holds a solid amount of cargo.

What to Consider: This well-equipped pack is substantially sized and a better bet for grade school ages and up.

This 21-inch rolling backpack is packed with features for bigger kids. It has two spacious main compartments plus skate wheels and a telescoping handle for a smooth ride. An exterior mesh bottle pocket stretches to fit large bottles, and a 15-inch laptop sleeve has a buckle to keep technology extra secure. It comes in an array of solid colors and appealing prints, and you can easily tuck away the shoulder straps when not in use.

Best Kids' Carry-on Suitcase

Rockland london hardside spinner wheel luggage carry-on.

Why We Love It: Kids can grow with this 20-inch spinner, small enough to manage but large enough to hold proper cargo.

What to Consider: A 20-inch spinner will be too large for preschoolers to easily maneuver.

When it comes to kids’ roller bags, we advocate for choosing a piece small enough for them to manage but large enough to hold a meaningful amount of cargo. To be worthwhile, it must be an efficient use of hands and bin space, not just a character-shaped gimmick that holds very little. Our writer's twins have these durable hardside cases, which they’ve carried independently since age 6 (going on three years and many miles and still going!).

Best Ride-on Suitcase

​​stokke jetkids bedbox.

Why We Love It: This wheeled ride-on suitcase transforms into a leg rest or bed in flight.

What to Consider: Not all carriers permit the use of items like these as leg rests while in the air.

This ride-on rolling suitcase has hidden talents beyond scooting through the airport: It transforms into a leg rest, or an in-plane bed, to help keep kids comfy and rested during the flight, too. Bonus: It even includes two sheets of stickers for kids to personalize their own luggage.

It may seem overwhelming to keep track of all the things you need to bring, especially after you've left home. GPS trackers can be lifesavers for locating your items during the journey, and a small first aid kit and plastic slider bags prepare for just-in-case moments and help clean up mid-flight messes, too.

Best Luggage Tracker

Apple airtag 4-pack.

Why We Love It: Track your kids’ stuff — or even your kids themselves — amid hectic environments like airports.

What to Consider: These tiny trackers are made to interface with Apple devices only.

In crowded, chaotic environments — especially when the dependability of baggage handling could use improvement — a small GPS tracking device tucked into a bag can make all the difference in reuniting with it after, say, a kid blithely walks away from their belongings after being distracted by a candy display. You can also use these tags on children themselves, with an array of specialty wristbands, keychains, and necklaces designed to incorporate the tags for wearability.

Best First Aid Kit

Preparakit small compact first aid kit for kids.

Why We Love It: This well-stocked first aid kit covers the basics in a compact, highly portable package.

What to Consider: You can save money if you choose to compile your own kit with customized supplies.

This TSA-approved mini first aid kit contains all the essentials for babies and toddlers in a package just about the size of a wallet. The curated array of 50 items includes bandages, gauze, tape, scissors, thermometer strips, and more. There’s also additional room to add your own prescription or over-the-counter medication.

Best Storage Bags

Hefty slider storage bags.

Why We Love It: They have a stand-up bottom for convenience.

What to Consider: They're less durable than sturdier bags made for freezer storage,

There are so many uses for slider storage bags while flying with kids: Use them within backpacks to organize cables, toys, and snacks. Or, use them to separate wet or soiled items, and to collect trash tidily. Plus, they’re super lightweight and waterproof.

Prioritize new or special items

When it comes to keeping kids entertained during a long flight, they’re most likely to stay engaged when playing with something that is new to them. Now’s the time to choose new or rarely used games, books, toys, and technology to pack in your kit for maximum novelty value.

Consider portability

You may be accustomed to your full arsenal of supplies at home, but carefully consider how portable and necessary each of these items is before committing to travel with it. Luggage fees add up, arms and hands quickly fill, and only the truly portable items are usually worthwhile to bring along on travels with kids.

Children over the age of two must have their own ticket, and therefore are entitled to the same baggage privileges of other ticketed passengers in the category. Check your airline and ticket class for the specific baggage allowances.

Formula, breast milk, toddler drinks, and baby or toddler food (including purée pouches) in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces are allowed in carry-on baggage, according to the TSA regulations ; these are considered medically necessary liquids. Just make sure to take these items out of your carry-on bag to be screened separately.

The same permission applies to breast milk and formula cooling accessories, like ice packs and freezer packs.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Alesandra Dubin is a career travel and lifestyle writer and a frequent traveler. She’s also a twin mom with plenty of hard-earned experience from world travels with kids.

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This airline that flies at Logan was named safest, most affordable on best airlines list.

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Got big travel plans but constrained by a small budget?

Consider Spirit Airlines.

The Florida-based airline, which flies out of Boston Logan International Airport , was named by WalletHub's as the best affordable airline and the best airline for safety in the site's Best Airlines of 2024 list. It placed third in overall best airline.

The list ranks the nine biggest airlines in the United States as well as one regional carrier, based on categories such as comfort, safety, affordability and reliability.

The top airline, Alaska Airlines , also flies out of Logan.

New Spirit Airline flights summer 2024 out of Logan

In addition to the flights they already had, Spirit announced last month they were adding nine new direct flights out of Boston's Logan Airport (Terminal B). They new direct locations include:

  • Kansas City

The airline also offers scheduled flights throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.

2024 rankings for most affordable airlines

WalletHub compared carrier affordability based on price per mile, dividing passenger revenue by the product of the number of available seats and the number of miles flown. Spirit has gained a reputation for using operational efficiency to keep costs down, such as using secondary airports, which are typically less congested and charge lower landing fees, as well as quick flight turnarounds.

  • Spirit Airlines (5.23 cents per mile)
  • Frontier Airlines (6.03 cents per mile)
  • Skywest Airlines (9.65 cents per mile)
  • Alaska Airlines (12.18 cents per mile)
  • JetBlue Airways (12.25 cents per mile)
  • Hawaiian Airlines (12.27 cents per mile)
  • Southwest Airlines (13.25 cents per mile)
  • United Airlines (13.93 cents per mile)
  • Delta Airlines (15.80 cents per mile)
  • American Airlines (16.15 cents per mile)

2024 rankings for airline safety

Air travel can be nerve wracking at the best of times, so it's easy to consider cheap air fare as something of a double edged sword, potentially giving up safety for less spending. Many people spring for more expensive carriers believing the cost must imply a degree of safety.

Despite this, Spirit's coming first in WalletHub's safety category show that passengers may in fact not have to worry about this tradeoff. The personal finance company evaluates airlines based on the number of aviation accidents, the injuries and fatalities in those accidents, as well as the age of the planes used.

  • Spirit Airlines
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Skywest Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Delta Airlines
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines

Overall rankings for best airlines in the US in 2024, per Wallethub

Best Airline of 2024 is an amalgamation of all categories (affordability, reliability, comfort and safety) as well as other factors in the passenger experience, such as baggage loss, cancellations and delays.

  • Jetblue Airways

Heathrow strikes to cause 'widespread disruption': Full list of dates and which departments are walking out

Here's what you need to know about when all the strike days are and which staff are set to walk out.

Monday 29 April 2024 17:36, UK

Passengers queue in Heathrow Airport. Pic: PA

Strikes at Heathrow Airport are taking place over the next two weeks, with the first one already under way.

Staff at the UK's biggest airport are staging a series of walkouts - and one union has warned of "widespread disruption".

Here's what you need to know about when the strikes are, what disruption is expected and which departments are taking part.

Border Force officers

They are walking out for four days from now until Thursday 2 May over changes to their working conditions, according to the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) trade union.

The union said more than 300 of its members working at terminals 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the airport are striking.

The effect of this strike is on arrivals rather than departures.

The action is taking place because around 250 Border Force staff will lose their jobs at passport control under new roster plans, the union says.

PCS general secretary Fran Heathcote said: "Our members are angry and disappointed at being forced out of their jobs.

"While not everyone will be affected, the changes will disproportionately hit those who are disabled or have caring responsibilities.

"The Home Office should be doing all it can to retain experienced, trained staff - not lose them by introducing an unworkable new roster system."

A Home Office spokesperson said it had "robust plans in place to minimise any potential disruption" during the strikes and "keeping our borders secure remains or top priority".

The spokesperson said they were "disappointed" with the union's decision but remained "open to discussing a resolution".

"The changes we are implementing will bring the working arrangements for Border Force Heathrow staff in line with the way staff work at other ports, provide them with more certainty on working patterns and improve the service to the travelling public," the spokesperson added.

File pic: iStock

Almost 800 staff in various departments

Unite members in the following departments at Heathrow are set to take part in a week of strike action in May:

• Passenger services - who assist travellers to catch connecting flights

• Trolley operations

• Campus security - the security guards who are responsible for all workers at Heathrow and vehicles being checked before entering Heathrow

• Firefighters

• Airside operations

The walkouts will take place on the following days:

• Tuesday 7 May

• Wednesday 8 May

• Thursday 9 May

• Friday 10 May

• Saturday 11 May

• Sunday 12 May

• Monday 13 May

Unite says the strike action "will inevitably cause widespread disruption across the airport, leading to delays and disruption".

It says the airport has announced the work of passenger services, trolley operations and campus security is set to be outsourced by 1 June in a "cost-cutting exercise" that Heathrow has stated will save it £40m.

"This cost reduction will lead to a substantial reduction in the number of workers, which raises serious security concerns, given the safety critical nature of much of the work undertaken," Unite says.

Its firefighters and airside operation members are also striking because they fear they "may be next in line" to have their work outsourced, the union adds.

Read more on Sky News: Train strikes in May - full list of lines affected Which countries are unsafe to travel to amid Middle East tensions?

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: "Heathrow Airport's actions are deplorable, it is raking in massive profits for the bosses while trying to squeeze every last penny out of its workforce.

"Unite is fully focused on defending its members jobs, pay and conditions and our members at Heathrow will receive the union's unrelenting support during this dispute."

A Heathrow spokesperson said: "We are reorganising our operations to deliver better results for our customers. There are no job losses as a result of these changes, and we continue to discuss with Unite the implementation of these changes for the small number of colleagues impacted.

"Unite's threats of potential industrial action are unnecessary, and customers can be reassured that we will keep the airport operating smoothly, just like we have in the past."

A strike involving refuelling workers, which was set to affect more than 30 airlines from 4 May to 6 May, has been called off after they accepted a new offer on pay and conditions.

Related Topics

  • Heathrow Airport

Watch CBS News

Southwest says it's pulling out of 4 airports. Here's where.

By Megan Cerullo

Edited By Anne Marie Lee

Updated on: April 25, 2024 / 4:01 PM EDT / CBS News

Southwest Airlines is suspending service at some airports across the U.S. as it slows its growth, in part because of Boeing aircraft delivery delays.

The airline is set to receive just 20 of the 46 Boeing 737 Max 8 planes it was expecting in 2024, Southwest said Thursday.

The delays mean slower growth for the airline, which is looking for ways to cut costs as it reported a quarterly loss of $231 million, or 39 cents per share. 

"Achieving our financial goals is an immediate imperative. The recent news from Boeing regarding further aircraft delivery delays presents significant challenges for both 2024 and 2025. We are reacting and replanning quickly to mitigate the operational and financial impacts while maintaining dependable and reliable flight schedules for our customers," Southwest CEO Bob Jordan  said on the company's first quarter earnings call Thursday.

One cost-cutting measure includes pulling out of "underperforming markets," he said. 

Southwest will end service at the following airports on August 4:

  • George Bush International Airport in Houston
  • Bellingham International Airport in Bellingham, Washington
  • Syracuse Hancock International Airport in Syracuse, New York
  • Cozumel International Airport on Cozumel island, Mexico

The carrier will also make significant changes to its operations in other markets, including cutting the number of flights at both Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Chicago O'Hare International Airport.

Airlines generally withdraw from regional airports and cut unprofitable or less-profitable routes to save on labor costs, or add capacity to more profitable routes and generate more revenue. 

In March, JetBlue said it was cutting unprofitable routes and exiting two U.S. cities altogether after a  judge blocked its $3.8 billion bid  for Spirit Airlines earlier this year. JetBlue cited limited aircraft as one driver of the cuts, which allow the airline to operate more flights on its busiest routes. 

Additionally, Southwest said Thursday that it is exploring making improvements to its plane cabins and seating options. The low-cost carrier does not charge customers seat-selection fees, which have become a growing source of revenue for its competitors.

Megan Cerullo is a New York-based reporter for CBS MoneyWatch covering small business, workplace, health care, consumer spending and personal finance topics. She regularly appears on CBS News 24/7 to discuss her reporting.

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