Traveling can be stressful and expensive if you don’t know what you’re doing. This list of carry-on essentials is especially helpful for first-time flyers, but if you are a travel veteran, below are some items you might be missing that can make your life easier, and prevent you from making a stressful trip to the store before making your way to the airport. These are the 19  essentials you should always have in your carry-on.

Travel Pillow 

Memory foam neck pillow

Easy to carry around your neck, travel pillows help you sleep comfortably on the plane, and in any waiting area. Gone are the days where you are guaranteed a pillow, especially one for free, but it depends on the airline. Your best and most cozy bet is to bring along your own travel pillow, so that you can snooze and feel refreshed for your journey once you touch down. 

Tums and Other Medications

Antacids on a wooden table

Airplanes have a tendency to upset stomachs, and give people gas. According to Turkish Airlines, “Gas and bloating are common [on aircrafts].”

“Air pressure in the cabin is lower than at sea level,” the airlines explains. “As cabin pressure falls while flying, gas starts to expand. As a result, you may feel pressure in your stomach or digestive system.” If you do feel gassy or sick on your next flight, you will be happy to feel relief with Tums, or any other stomach medication. Tums also comes in handy if you are flying back from your trip with a hangover. Tossing some Ibuprofen in your carry-on is also a good idea for the same reason, should you get a headache while in the air.


Several packages of gum

Sometimes when flying, our ears feel irritated and unbalanced. To relieve the issue, passengers can chew on gum to alleviate the ache. Once you feel a popping sensation in your ear from chewing, you can go back to playing in-flight trivia in peace. Gum is also a good idea so that you can freshen your breath before disembarking a plane. Who knew Winterfresh could come in handy?

Chapstick & Travel-Sized Lotion 

Several tubes of ChapStick

The low-humidity of cabin air can result in chapped lips and dry skin. Therefore, it’s ideal to have hydrating chapstick and lotion to combat these uncomfortable side effects that come with flying. 

Blanket or Hoodie

Blanket and pillow on plane seat

You can’t adjust the temperature on a plane, so come prepared with layers that you can quickly put on and take off at your convenience. Make sure you don’t leave your house without a blanket or hoodie, or you could be in for a freezing journey.

Underwear & Compression Socks

Compression Socks

If you are flying standby, and get stuck somewhere separated from your bags, you likely want to have underwear and socks on hand, so that you can change, and prevent infections, discomfort, and foul odors. Wearing compression socks on the plane has its own benefit by making you feel more comfortable and encouraging blood circulation. 

Travel Friendly Makeup & Makeup Bag

Clear Toiletry Bag

Keep your makeup organized and any liquids ready for TSA inspection by bringing along a clear, reusable makeup bag to store your goods, so nothing goes amiss during your hustle and bustle through airports.

Extra Hair Ties

Hair ties and colorful markers surrounding a blue hair brush

Inconvenience is an understatement when you are traveling, and realize that you lost your one and only hair tie. Bringing along an extra set of hair ties will save you precious time while you are exploring, so that you can feel at ease on your trip, especially if you are traveling to a hot and humid destination.


Man reading a book on a plane

Sometimes the movies on the airplane don’t work, or are not free to access, and you can be stuck without entertainment for hours. Bringing along a book will save you from boredom, or a chatty passenger next to you. You can also read them as you wait at the gate, or when you experience a flight delay.  


Apple AirPods with Wireless Charging Case

Some airplanes provide free movies to view, but charge for headphones. Therefore, to save money, you should be sure to stash some headphones in your carry-on. Headphones are a must for watching videos on your phone or laptop while you wait at your gate, and/or in the event your flight gets delayed or cancelled. 

Toothbrush, Mini Toothpaste & Deodorant

Mini-toothpaste, toothbrush, and mini-soap

Having a toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant on hand is ideal for freshening up just before deplaning or meeting your loved one at the gate. You will feel rejuvenated and fresh even if you can’t get to your hotel for hours. 

Sleeping Mask

Woman sleeping while wearing black sleep mask

Nearby passengers can leave window shades open, have their overhead lights turned on, and more to unintentionally keep you awake. In order to rest tranquilly and block out light, a sleeping mask is imperative, particularly if you are flying on a red-eye and want to land rested, with a good night’s sleep. Sleeping eye masks are also perfect for long flights, and can even be used when at home.

Ziplock Bags

Travel zip lock bags

Ziplock bags come in handy if you buy any makeup or lotion while away, so that you don’t have to spend time later trying to hunt down a store to transport your makeup in accordance to TSA regulations, but it’s easier to buy these reusable, clear toiletry bags in advance if possible. 

Travel Sized Plastic Shampoo Bottles 

Travel sized shampoo bottles

Plastic shampoo bottles are a great investment if you are a frequent flyer. You can reuse the bottles, and never have to worry about buying overpriced, travel-size shampoo and soap again.

Refillable Water Bottle 

Refillable water bottles

A refillable water bottle is perfect for helping you stay hydrated on the plane. Most airports have water bottle refilling stations. (Just be sure that your bottle is empty while going through security.)

Travel Adapters

Travel Adapter

You don’t want to land at your international destination without your travel adapter. Be sure to check which one you need for your specific trip, and have it on hand with you, so that you can rest assured that your phone will always be charged. 

Phone, Charger, & Portable Phone Charger

Two Lekzai 2-Pack Portable Chargers in red and black

These might seem straightforward, but plenty of people forget to bring along a charger. A portable phone charger is also a good backup to bring, in case you can’t find an outlet at the airport.

Wallet & Documents

Travel Document Organizer

This is another obvious add, but you always want to make sure you have your wallet and documents with you at all times. Nothing is more stressful than realizing you forgot your passport at home before checking in at the airport. You can score a document organizer here to save you stress while switching cities. Make sure you also have a photo of your passport information stored on your phone and email should you misplace it. 

Camera, Laptop & Other Expensive Electronics

Bag with electronics

If you want to take photos of the clouds, landscapes, the sunrise, or sunset, it’s a good idea to have your camera on hand in your carry-on luggage. You also want to make sure you have your most expensive items with you at all times to avoid costly items from being lost by the airlines. 

Images via Adobe Stock and Amazon

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