My “Leaving on a Jet Plane” Carry-On Must-Haves!

Updated: Nov 5, 2019

Most of the trips I have taken as of late are the lengthy ones. The days-on-end, for weeks to a month at a time, kind of trips. I do love, however, the short and sweet little getaways where you can fly off to someplace spectacular for a few days, a long weekend or maybe a week.

There are many reasons to love those trips, but for me I am extra crazy about them because the packing is light. And, light packing means easy unpacking! I take my 19” Delsey Helium International Carry-On and a backpack – easy peasy! Sometimes, if it is just for a couple of days, I leave the 19” hard case at home and opt for my little Zuca Skipper roll-about along with my backpack. Regardless of the length of my journey, ever since I found my ideal backpack, I can never travel without it!

Let’s face it. If you want the cheaper fares these days, you must be willing to make some sacrifices. I love finding awesome inexpensive flights to places I have been wanting to visit, even if I have been there ten times before. For me, it is a huge adrenalin rush when I get those glorious price drop alerts on my phone!

9 times out of 10 on my flights I will make needed sacrifices if the destination is fantastico. The main sacrifice is usually luggage related. I will stuff everything into every nook and cranny of my carry-ons if the price is right. Other times I will make the checked bag commitment if I am going to be heading out on a longer adventure. I mean, sometimes having that extra pair of boots is worth it – seriously!

Even though I will always “attempt” to overpack – I think it is somewhere in my DNA – I have officially fine-tuned my little carry-on luggage and backpack “cramming stuff in” routine.

This post is about my carry-on backpack because it always contains my travel lifeline. If something ever happens to my other carry-on (yikes) or checked bag, I want to have all I need to survive for a day or two perfectly jammed into my backpack. And, we all know sometimes things happen, unfortunately.

Finding the right backpack can be a mind-numbing task. All human bodies are made differently, some of us travel with a laptop and of course you want it durable – travel can create a beating on your luggage! My biggest challenge is size and support. I am only 5’3” and short-waisted so it needs to not be gigantic for my form and be super comfortable. Nothing like feeling like you have a full live camel on your back when you are hustling from one gate to another – UGH. After much trial and tribulation, I found my perfect backpack. I truly think I heard the hallelujah chorus when I found it!

So, what is my favorite backpack you ask? Why it is the Matein Mlassic Laptop Backpack and it is the BOMB – for me and my pint-size self anyway. It has so many awesome features that make me love it so. For starters, it is lightweight and fits me perfectly and comfortably. I can’t express how important this is. It is durable & weather-proof. Fits my laptop and clothes compression cube, etc. in one compartment, Kindle, snacks and more in the front compartment and then it has a USB charging port for my power bank that I can keep inside the backpack Being able to quick charge my electronics is a must! One of my favorite features is the hidden anti-theft pocket on the back for my passport, plane ticket and moola so all of the pickpockets are S-O-L! Yes, I love this backpack!

Now, I am sure you want to know how I get my necessities into this little guy. I am an organization freak. Love my little goodies that help keep me in check and having continuous easy access to what I stow under the seat in front of me. Below is a list of what I always must have in my backpack – because, well, you never know...

1. My Laptop – It is a wee little one that only weighs a couple pounds, but I usually can’t work/travel without it.

2. Fire HD 8 Tablet – Previously I had the 7 because I only used it for reading and didn’t mind the smaller screen size. Then I decided to upgrade to the 8 because I don’t always have my laptop and may want to have movies on download for rainy days or quiet nights while traveling.

3. External Battery Power bank – You may have your favorite, but I am sharing mine – the Anker Power Core Lite. The dual port is beyond wonderful and it will charge my phone several times before I have to recharge the bank!

4. Chargers with 3 & 10-foot braided cords – Why 2 cords? I use the 3-foot on the plane, etc and the 10-foot, well, how many times have you had accommodations with the nearest outlet to the bed be across the room? Enough said. Why braided? Just my preference.

5. Earbuds – A must! Even though I hate things in my ears, I hate trying to find room for headphones even more.

6. Case for electronic cords – My organization addiction at play here. One of my pet peeves is tangled cords – oh, the wrath I unleash when my cords are tangled. This sweet little ProCase Travel Gear Organizer has saved me, and perhaps others from the aforementioned wrath. It fits nicely in my backpack’s main compartment. It is a little bigger, but I put some of my camera accessories in it as well. They have a great smaller version too!

7. Power Plug Adapter – Outside of the USA, I won’t leave without it! My tip if you travel a lot, don’t forget one that also works in Asia! Speaking from experience – sigh.

8. Passport/ID case – I found this little leather case and it is perfect, small and no frills. I just love it because my passport, ID and tickets are all together and it also fits perfectly in my favorite cross-body purse that I take on trips.

9. Eye Mask – Okay, not everyone will want an eye mask. I usually only take mine if the flight is overnight and long. Otherwise, eyes closed works just fine for me.

10. Eargasm Aviation Ear Plugs – They may have had me at the name! I actually know people who can fall asleep instantly once they are in the air. Not this kitten! It never fails, on overnights, there will be “those people” behind me who can’t seem to "zip it". I hate things in my ears – even my ear buds – but these babies are heaven! I hardly know they are in my ears!

11. Travel Slippers – Again, I use these for overnight flights and even occasionally on long international day flights. I hate having my shoes on for that long. I need my silky little ballet slipper travel slippers. My mom got me hooked on Isotoner ballerina slippers years ago. I haven’t found anything I love better!

12. Compression Socks – When I was younger I didn’t need these when I was flying somewhere. Now, there is nothing worse that trying to put shoes back on swollen feet after a long flight in my slippers. Compression socks are the bomb! I have a few pair. The key, according to a nurse friend is getting them at 20mmHg at least. There are many options out there – I like mine black with a little color thrown in.

13. 3-1-1 bag – We all know what this is. Engraved in our travel brains. I like to keep it simple. If not checking a bag, I condense everything into little silicone bottles in my 3-1-1 and save enough room for any makeup or lotion items that TSA must “see”.

14. Face & Hand Lotion – normally just enough for my trip. When I travel I don’t like to wear makeup and hate that “parched skin” feeling – ugh! Hand lotion is my travel holy grail. I can’t wash my hands and not put it on after. A little OCD thing I picked up from my mother.

15. Lip Balm – my other holy grail. My favorite is Palmers Cocoa Butter stick. In a pinch is will wonderfully moisturize cuticles and hands!

16. Melatonin – I can’t sleep on planes! Ugh!

17. Hand Sanitizer – Gross things on surfaces when you travel – ick. I hate the alcohol types, but love my Jao Hand Refresher!! Multi-use, herbal goodness and comes in a 2 oz spray bottle! It is also awesome to use as an armpit refresher - just sayin'!

18. Travel toothbrush and paste – My backpack must have my little folding toothbrush and small tube of toothpaste. When you arrive after an overnight flight – morning breath, people!

19. Makeup Bag/Case – Sometimes this goes into my backpack, other times it goes into my other carry-on. It just depends. Regardless, my makeup and brushes are never in my checked bag. Too much of an investment for me personally, especially my brushes. And, I never want to be stranded without my “face”.

20. Packing Cube – I am addicted to packing cubes! Now, the Gonex Compression Cubes are my latest obsession! They are the best when you are trying to travel with only carry-on baggage! Or, you are like me and “tend” to over pack. One of these cubes is always in my backpack with a clothing change. Just in case my other carry-on disappears or my checked bag is seriously delayed, at least I will have clean underwear!

‘Tis importante!

21. One Change of clothes – See #20 – For me the clothing change is as simple as a fresh pair of leggings, T-shirt, socks and undergarments – done and done!

22. Travel Journal & Pens - I journal every single trip - every single day!

23. Reading Glasses - I personally can't read without them!

24. Snacks! – I get low blood sugar – aka “hangry” – easily. I need little snacky things on my trips. I put these in my backpacks’ front compartment for easy access. I take nuts, protein bars, dried fruit, almond butter packets and candy. I love my candy and the stuff is stupid expensive in the airport!

25. Playlist! Sometimes I like to drown everything out – even if it is someone traveling with me - lol

Other little things that I can’t climb aboard without…

“Trtl” Neck Pillow – Holy Moly, I LOVE this thing!! See you later memory foam neck pillow! I am a Trtl girl now! Oh, and they also have the CUTEST compression socks!

Wrap/Cape – I despise wearing a coat or bulky anything when flying. I love a wrap/cape! I cozied up with this one the plane and wore it while lounging all around my Airbnb’s on my last trip to Italy. So soft and amazing!!

Camera – I never travel without my camera. I always try to fit it into my backpack whenever possible. If need be it will be tucked into my other carry-on. I just normally want it near my physical being!

As I mentioned in the beginning, my other carry-on is a Delsey Titanium 19” International Carry-on. First, I ordered my 25” Delsey Titanium “Graphite” case for one of my international trips. It survived and then some! I was hooked so that I ordered the international size carry-on. Let me just say, when you are trying to maneuver through airports or one-and-off of trains, especially if you are traveling solo, both are perfect! Rugged, easy for little ol’ me to handle and with the twin-spinner wheels you can’t go wrong!

That really sums up my backpack and must have, in-flight goodies! I am working a Packing YouTube video and a little “short trip” clothes packing checklist, that I will “try” to follow so I don’t over pack and you can give it a whirl too! I will upload them soon!

In the famous words of John Denver --

“‘Cause I’m leaving on jet plane. Don’t know when I will be back again…”

Ciao! Talk soon!

"Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Please keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you. Thanks!"

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