Woman at the airport with a carry on packing list in her bag

Carry On Packing List (27 Things You Might Forget to Bring)

👉 Jump to: Carry On Packing List | Summer Clothing to Pack | Winter Clothing to Pack | Packing Tips | FAQ

If you’re trying to figure out what you should and shouldn’t include in your carry on packing list, then you’ve come to the right place.

As a backpacker and a frequent traveler, I know all about the struggles of keeping your packing list simple and making everything fit in a personal item or carry-on bag. Experience and lots of trial and error equipped me with the best tips to pack a carry-on.

Whether you’re trying to save the extra cost of checked baggage, or avoid that dreaded wait at the luggage carousel, here is the perfect carry on packing list to make it happen.

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. See our Advertising Policy for further explanation. Thank you!

Carry On Packing Checklist

Carry On Backpack

Our Pick
Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack

Forget about waiting for your checked bags, and leave the airport right after landing with this backpack.

If you’re traveling for a week or less, then it’s best to travel with a carry on travel backpack. The Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack meets most airlines’ carry-on standards and is TSA friendly. This backpack has enough space to fit your complete packing list, your electronics, and some snacks. Its front pocket is easy to access even in the tight space of economy class. 

Check out our full Osprey Porter 46 Review for more info! Or, if you prefer traveling with a suitcase, see our guide to the best carry on suitcases.

Day Pack

Our Pick
Tortuga Packable Daypack
Take your travel essentials on a day of sightseeing with this sturdy and lightweight backpack.

Even if you travel with a carry on, a separate day pack is necessary to take snacks, electronics, and even a change of clothes. The Tortuga Setout day pack can fit everything you need for a day trip with an inner pocket large enough to fit 19 liters. The best feature of the Tortuga Setout is that it’s foldable, so you can fit it in your carry-on. 

Toiletry Bag

Our Pick
MAGIGO Pink Toiletries

Travel with your essential personal items inside this TSA-approved bottle set. The bottles are BPA-free and leakproof.

If you’re traveling with a carry on bag, then you know that your toiletries have to follow specific standards to go through airport security. This MAGIGO travel bottle set is TSA approved and comes with 16 pieces. The set includes a small funnel to fill up your bottles and multiple types of containers for creams, shampoos, and perfumes.


Our Pick
Sun Bum Premium Day Tripper

Protect both your skin and the ocean with this SPF 30 reef-friendly sunscreen.

Something essential that you can’t forget when you’re traveling anywhere, hot or cold, is sunscreen. This Sun Bum day tripper set includes an SPF 30 sunscreen, an SPF lip balm, and a cool-down lotion to treat sunburns. This sunscreen is our pick because it’s vegan, hypoallergenic, and reef-friendly. 

Hand Sanitizer

Our Pick
PURELL Advanced Hand Sanitizer Variety Pack
Attach this hand sanitizer to your backpack and have it always accessible to disinfect your hands.

Hand sanitizer is on everyone’s packing list nowadays. And even if you’re packing light, you can’t skip this travel essential. You can save money with this Purell hand sanitizer pack which includes multiple bottles. The bottle comes with a jelly carrier you can easily attach to your carry on or checked luggage. 

Bug Spray

Our Pick
OFF! Botanicals Insect Repellent

This DEET-free and portable repellent will prevent mosquitoes from ruining your travel experiences.

If you’re an outdoor lover, then you know how much mosquitoes can ruin your day. And if you’re going anywhere near the tropics, then bug spray is essential in your packing list. This OFF insect repellent has a plant-based formula and is fragrance and DEET-free. The small bottle can fit right in your pocket on the go.

Compression Packing Cubes

Our Pick
Well Traveled Packing Cubes
It’s okay if you want to fit a little more than you should in your carry-on luggage. These compression cubes can make it happen.

If your carry on packing list makes your bag hard to close, then compression packing cubes can help you save space. This Well Traveled packing cubes set comes in different sizes that can fit your tops and bottoms.

Compression Socks

Our Pick
CHARMKING 3 Pairs Copper Compression Socks

Keep your legs feeling comfortable during your flight or while you’re out exploring. These compression socks improve your circulation.

Compression socks are in-flight essentials that help prevent that heavy feet feeling you get after international trips and long-haul flights. The CHARMKING compression socks are breathable, comfortable, and provide precise compression. Besides keeping your blood flow going, these unisex socks come in cute designs. 

Passport Cover

Our Pick
Melsbrinna Passport Cover

Keep your passport, cards, and boarding pass all in one place, and leave your wallet at home with this RFID-blocking travel wallet.

A passport that gets ripped, stained, or wet is a problem you just don’t want to run into abroad. But this Melsbrinna passport holder does more than just protect your passport – it keeps everything from your credit cards to your boarding pass in one convenient place. It even has a slot for your sim cards and is RFID-blocking and waterproof too.

Solid Shampoo

Our Pick
Ethique Solid Shampoo

Never run out of shampoo on your trips with this vegan and eco-friendly shampoo bar.

If you’re a traveler that uses a carry-on for longer trips, then include solid shampoo in your carry on packing list. Solid shampoo is one of the frequent travelers’ best-kept secrets. It lasts for weeks, saves money, and goes through airport security without any problem. The Ethique solid shampoo bar is vegan and has natural ingredients. It’s also free from parabens and fragrances, making it safe for all skin types.

SPF Lip Balm

Our Pick
O'Keeffe's Lip Balm
Keep your lips smooth and protected with this moisturizing and water-resistant lip balm.

Visiting beaches, rivers, and canyons comes with sun exposure that can damage your skin, particularly your lips. So, if you plan on being outdoors, your carry on packing list should have an SPF lip balm. O’Keeffe’s lip balm both repairs and protects your lips with SPF 35. It’s also water-resistant which makes it ideal when packing for the beach.


Our Pick
Kindle Oasis

Ultra-thin and weightless, this e-reader can store hundreds of books and continue to work for hours with a single battery charge.

If you’re a book lover but want to pack light for your trip, then you’ll need an e-reader on your packing list. The Kindle Oasis is a weightless e-reader that’s super thin and waterproof. Using WiFi, you can download hundreds of books without making your luggage heavier.

Noise Cancelling Earphones

Our Pick
Bose QuietComfort Noise Cancelling Earbuds
Get through any long flight with these comfortable noise-canceling earbuds.

Sleeping on the plane during long flights can be a real challenge without any headphones, which is why they should be a top priority on your packing list. These Bose earphones offer the coveted noise-canceling feature without the discomfort of wearing huge headphones around your head. They also have a long battery life that can play your favorite music for hours.

First Aid Kit

Our Pick
General Medi Mini First Aid Kit
Be prepared for incidents with this complete and compact first aid kit.

The ultimate carry on list can’t lack a first aid kit, even if you’re packing light. First aid kits are one of those things you rather have and not need than need and not have. Although compact, this General Medi first aid kit includes 100 pieces to treat minor wounds, and you can attach the pouch to the outside of your bag. 

Power Bank

Our Pick
Anker Portable Charger
Quickly and effortlessly charge your phone on the go with this slim and powerful power bank.

While not many electronics are necessary to enjoy a trip, a power bank will definitely come in handy. The Anker portable charger is almost weightless, slim, and provides enough energy to charge your phone multiple times.

Motion Sickness Medicine

Our Pick
Dramamine Motion Sickness Non-Drowsy
Dramamine stops motion sickness quickly, without making you feel groggy and drowsy.

If you’re traveling on a cruise or renting a car, you might face motion sickness. Luckily, it’s easy to buy motion sickness medicine over the counter. Dramamine Non-drowsy is our pick because it’s fast-acting and won’t put you to sleep. It’s also made with natural ginger which helps to relieve drowsiness symptoms.

Filtered Water Bottle

Our Pick
GRAYL GeoPress 24 oz Water Purifier Bottle

Drink clean water even when you’re exploring out in the wilderness, with this quick water purifying bottle.

Water safety is an important part of every trip, but buying plastic water bottles isn’t exactly the most environmentally friendly. The GRAYL GeoPress water purifier bottle purifies water easily and quickly. Its replaceable filter removes pathogens and particulates from sources like sinks and rivers. Check out our Grayl Filtered Water Bottle Review for more information.

Portable Speaker

Our Pick
JBL Clip 3 Bluetooth Speaker

Listen to music on the go with this compact speaker. It won’t take more space in your carry-on than your hairbrush.

If you’re a music enthusiast who loves to enjoy your fave songs on the go with portable speakers, then you have to check out the JBL Clip 3 speaker. Its clip-on design allows you to attach it to your carry-on backpack or your excursion day pack. This speaker is also waterproof and easily streams music from your phone.  

Portable Tripod

Our Pick
Bluehorn Portable Phone Tripod

This portable tripod comes with a remote that triggers your phone's camera.

If you love taking pictures, but you always struggle to find someone that takes them, then a portable tripod is a vital addition to your carry on packing list. This Bluehorn portable phone tripod is a 3-in-1 travel gear. It’s a tripod, a selfie stick, and a small table tripod. The top feature of this tripod is its control which allows you to take your pictures remotely. Plus, it’ll fit in your carry on bag.

Camera Sleeve Case

Our Pick
USA GEAR DSLR SLR Camera Sleeve Case

Safely stow your DSLR inside your bag with this padded case.

Photography enthusiasts know the struggle of having a camera bag so large it counts as a travel bag itself. But, if you want to travel with your camera, a compact camera sleeve case is your best alternative. This USA Gear camera sleeve lets you pack your DSLR inside your bag, and it has a pocket that can fit a battery or a memory card.

Electronic Organizer

Our Pick
FYY Electronic Organizer

Keep your cables and chargers from getting lost in your bag with this spacious and waterproof organizer.

Techies often have a lot of cables and chargers on their packing list, and electronic organizers are perfect for keeping them organized. The FYY electronic organizer features multiple layers with extra room to fit chargers, cables, and even your phone. This case is also waterproof and will keep everything safe in case an unwanted spill happens in your bag. 

Action Camera

Our Pick

Record your memories with this waterproof action camera.

If there isn’t a picture of it, did it even happen? Not all cameras and cellphones are optimal for outdoor adventures, but an action camera will go anywhere with you. The GoPro HERO8 is waterproof, can handle extremely cold weather, and fits inside your pocket.

Travel Towel

Our Pick
Rainleaf Microfiber Towel
This travel towel is compact and quick-drying.

If you’re looking for a towel that won’t take up too much space in your bag and dries easily, then check out the Rainleaf microfiber towel. It’ll fit in your luggage easily and even dries more water than a common towel.

Waterproof Pouch

Our Pick
AiRunTech Waterproof Pouch
100% sealed, this waterproof pouch keeps your belongings dry and tied to your waist even if you decide to go for a swim.

Not everyone can afford a totally waterproof phone, and even then, waterproof phones shouldn’t really get immersed in salt water. So what do you do with your phone then? You use a waterproof pouch to protect it. This AiRunTech waterproof pouch is our pick because it also has space for your passport, your keys, and cash. You can strap it to your waist and hide it under your clothes.

Luggage Lock

Our Pick
Master Luggage Lock

Secure all your belongings easily, with this easy-to-use luggage combination lock.

One of the most common safety travel tips is to protect your carry-on travel bag and checked bag with locks. This Master luggage lock is TSA-approved and tamper-resistant. Plus, it’s a combination lock, so you don’t have to worry about losing the key.  

Travel Adapter

Our Pick
All in One Universal Travel Adaptor

Keep connected regardless of where you’re coming from with this universal travel adapter.

If you’re traveling internationally, then you’ll need to include a travel adapter in your carry-on packing list. This Mingtong all-in-one universal travel adapter will let you charge your phone and plug in your electronics no matter where you’re headed – with different ports for Europe, the United States, Australia, and United Kingdom.  

Travel Insurance

Travel Lemming's Pick
Need Insurance? Compare Quotes with VisitorsCoverage

VisitorsCoverage is a travel insurance marketplace where you can quickly compare quotes from hundreds of insurers -- all it takes is a minute to enter your details!

Travel insurance is one of those things you don’t think about until you really need it. Depending on where your going and what you’re doing, you may consider whether it’s a good ideas to protect your trip.

You can easily get and compare dozens of quotes in minutes through the handy VisitorsCoverage site – and it may cost less than you think!

Other Carry-On Essentials to Pack

Clothing to Pack for a Carry-On in Summer

Your carry on packing list for hot weather will include lighter and comfortable clothing. If you’re traveling to a beach destination, then flip-flops and swimwear will be the main items in your bag. 

While packing a carry on with all your travel essentials is challenging, a smart selection of clothing pieces and a strategic arrangement in your backpack can set you up for even international travel. 

So what clothing should you include in your carry on packing list for summer? Here is a quick clothing checklist for your carry-on: 

  • 4-7 t-shirts 
  • 1- 2 dressier shirts (button-ups or blouses)
  • 1 summer dress
  • 1-3 swimsuits
  • 1 beach cover-up
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1-2 pairs of shorts
  • 7 pairs of underwear
  • 5-6 pairs of socks
  • 1 pair of flip flops
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • 1 ball cap or sunhat

Now that you have an overall idea of what you’ll be needing in your carry on packing list, let’s look in detail at some of our clothing picks for hot weather:


Our Pick
Wander Agio Beach Swimsuit Cover Up
Skip the hotel stop, and just continue to enjoy your day after the beach with this cute and fresh cover-up.

For beach destinations, cover-ups are indispensable wardrobe pieces. They offer a quick transition between the beach and restaurants or excursions. This Wander Agio cover-up is easy to slip on and doubles as the perfect sundress, with a nice loose fabric.

Hiking Boots

Our Pick
Columbia Women's Hiking Shoe

These hefty boots will protect your ankles, support your toes, and repel water in your next outdoor escapade.

If you’re a hiking enthusiast, then packing hiking boots are a better option to pack than sneakers. These sturdy Columbia hiking boots promise to help you conquer any outdoor quest with extra comfort, regardless of the terrain. These boots manage to stay lightweight even when you’re trekking in the river.

See Abigail’s full hiking essential checklist for tips on what to bring hiking.

Water Shoes

Our Pick
L-RUN Athletic Hiking Water Shoes

Enjoy any watersport with these flexible, quick-dry, and gripping water shoes that come in different colors and designs.

Those visiting beaches, rivers, or waterfalls during their vacation need to pack water shoes. The L-RUN athletic hiking water shoes are great for swimming, but they also have a strong traction sole for hiking in rocky rivers or paddleboarding on the beach. These water shoes are also flexible and lightweight. 

Rain Jacket

Our Pick
Baleaf Raincoat Jacket
Stay dry while you hike, with this high-quality rain jacket you can easily pack in its own pocket.

A rain jacket will come in handy if you’re visiting rainforests or high-altitude places. The BALEAF light rain jacket will keep you dry during your hikes and visible with its reflective logos. The jacket is also easy to pack in your bag as you can fold it and pack it inside the back pocket.


Our Pick
PZ Sunglasses
Avoid squinting in your photos with these minimalistic and simple polarized sunglasses.

Sunglasses are both a fashion accessory and a packing list essential. These PZ sunglasses won’t break your bank and they’ll protect your eyes from UV rays. The clear minimalist frame suits a ton of face shapes.

Sun Hat

Our Pick
Columbia Bora Bora Hat
Take an extra step to protect your skin with this UPF 50 sun hat with a breathable system to keep humidity out.

We all know sunscreen isn’t enough to protect your skin from UV rays, and that’s why should bring a sun hat on your trip. This Columbia sun hat features specialized fabric with UPF 50 and breathable mesh panels to prevent stuffiness. 

Clothing to Pack for a Carry-On in Winter

Winter clothes are thicker and often occupy more space in your carry-on. But, dressing in layers and wearing your winter jacket on the plane (or using it as a pillow) will make it possible to fit everything you need in your bag.

How does your clothing change if you’re packing your carry-on for winter?  Here is a quick clothing checklist for your carry-on:

  • 4-7  long sleeve t-shirts
  • 1-2 scarfs
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 1 set of pajamas
  • 1 set of thermal underwear
  • 7 pairs of underwear
  • 5-6 pairs of socks
  • 1 pair of sneakers or boots
  • 1 beanie

For the most part, those are the essentials for a carry on packing list. Let’s see in detail some of our favorite picks:

Winter Jacket

Our Pick
DLGJPA Men's Mountain Waterproof Ski Jacket

Keep yourself warm without feeling stuffy with this breathable winter jacket.

Traveling during the autumn and winter seasons means packing thicker clothes for cold weather. This DLGJPA hooded windbreaker doesn’t take as much space as other jackets and still manages to keep you warm. It’s waterproof, breathable, and ideal for outdoor activities for both men and women.

Thermal Underwear

Our Pick
Women's Thermal Long Underwear Set

This Amazon Essential thermal underwear provides an extra layer of warmth with comfort.

Occasionally, a winter jacket won’t be enough to keep you warm in cold weather, and thermal underwear will be necessary. This Amazon Essential underwear thermal set is long-lasting, comfortable, and best of all, budget-friendly.

Winter Gloves

Our Pick
OZERO Winter Thermal Gloves

Keep your hands warm with these gloves, without losing mobility or having to take them off to use your phone.

Hands tend to get the cold the fastest when you’re outside in the winter. But, since keeping them inside your pockets all day long isn’t practical, you should bring a pair of gloves in your carry on. The OZERO winter thermal gloves are flexible and screen touch-friendly. These gloves are also water-resistant and fit snuggly around your wrists. 

Carry On Packing Tips

Keep a Color Palette

Another way to avoid overpacking is to stick with a color palette when you’re packing your carry-on. This allows you to form multiple outfits with fewer pieces and still look fashionable for your vacation photos.

Pack Versatile Clothing

Saving space in your carry on is all about packing smartly. Instead of focusing on forming multiple outfits with different pieces, try packing clothes that work for different outfits. For example, your gym shorts might be good for sleeping, hiking, or even swimming. 

Consider the Weather

Considering the weather seems like an obvious thing, but carry-on travelers often reach a destination only to find out they have to buy a long sleeve shirt or a jacket for the cold. Smart packing also involves research. Does your next destination have hot weather all year? Does the season change? Always research ahead of time, and use the information to pack your bag.

Don’t Forget Dress Codes

Another thing to keep in mind when packing is the usual dressing code in your destination. Some countries are more conservative than others. Even if the weather might be nice enough to be out in shorts and tank tops, the local and cultural dress codes might be different. The last thing you’d want on your trip is to have people staring at you.

🐶 Travel with a Pet? Check out our guide to flying with your dog.

Consider Your Travel Style

When you’re packing a carry-on, it’s key to know what you’ll be doing on your trip to avoid overpacking (or underpacking). If you’re traveling for business purposes, then button-ups and blouses will replace swimwear and shorts. If you’re traveling for pleasure, but you plan to go clubbing, you’d prefer dresses and high heels over sneakers. 

Wash Your Clothes

The key to avoiding checking a bag during longer trips is doing laundry. You can find laundry services in hotels or community laundromats in many destinations. And even if you don’t find any, you can always wash laundry in your hotel sink or bathtub. That way you’ll save on extra bag fees and travel light.

👉 More Packing Lists:

FAQs About a Carry On Packing List

What should I pack in my carry-on bag?

A traveler’s carry-on packing list should include toiletries without liquids over 3.4 ounces. Travelers should also include a compact capsule wardrobe with versatile and practical pieces that are fitting for their destination. A carry-on packing list should also have travel documents and electronics. 

What is not allowed on a plane carry-on?

Liquids over 3.4 oz, sharp objects, gas-pressured bottles, and firearms are not allowed in carry-on baggage that goes on the overhead bin inside the plane. Travelers using a carry-on can find a complete list of approved items on the Transportation Security Administration website.

How do you pack everything in your carry-on?

Travelers using a carry-on to travel should keep their packing list small and only with essentials. There are multiple ways to pack a carry-on, but the use of compression cubes to organize and compress everything inside is one of the most popular methods.


You’ve reached the end of my ultimate carry on packing list! Now you can use this packing list to prepare for your next quest. If you need a carry on backpack, be sure to check out our ranking of the best travel backpacks.

Have a great trip! I hope this carry on packing checklist has helped you!

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