10 Invaluable Carry-On Essentials You Should Travel With

No matter where you're going or how long you'll be away, it's helpful to have a go-to packing list that highlights your essentials. It never seems to surprise me that after all my years of travel, I still reference a packing list to double check I have all the things. This way I can use less brain power, prioritize sleep before I leave, stay excited, and feel grounded and calm. Because who wants to leave on a trip frantic and stressed?

I've rounded up a worthwhile list of carry-on essentials you should bring on any trip.

Water bottle

Bring a water bottle! Buying and using less plastic is always a plus for mother earth and your wallet. Depending on where I'm going, I may also bring a small mug for hot drinks. Keep an eye out for places to refill with filtered water and keep your bottle out and visible to stay hydrated. Remember to empty your bottle before going through airport security.

Ear buds

Either sound canceling headphones or small ear buds can be used to create a quiet space to recharge or drown out loud noises. A lot of times I wear ear buds as ear plugs and may have them in without anything playing to create a calm space in my head. I keep go-to Spotify playlists handy and may put on white noise to zen out.

Comfortable clothing

As much as I'd like to look stylish in functional clothes, I simply want to be comfortable. Travel can have stressful moments. You can be sitting for long periods of time and often end up wearing the same clothes over and over without a washing machine. I love packing a sweatshirt with a hood, buff, relaxed t-shirts, and high-waisted pants.

Hat and sunglasses

It goes without saying but protecting your eyes and head from the sun are crucial. Choose a big brimmed hat or trucker hat along with a pair of sunglasses that have UV protection. And if you're traveling somewhere cold, bring two different weight hats to keep your head and neck warm.

Journal with colorful markers and a good book

No need to always be on an device or scrolling the gram. Having a journal to write, doodle, or color engages your brain in a different way and helps slow down time so you can enjoy every moment of your travels. Having the option to journal or read a good book opens your imagination and and brings more to the present moment and solidify memories.

Toiletry bag

One of my most favorite items to pack! I love little bottles of oils and vitamins to care for the physical body. Check out this blog post with a full list of toiletry items like essential oils, carrier oil, and SPF. It'a also a good idea to bring zinc (immune booster), ginger capsules (digestive and motion sickness), and oil of oregano (immune booster).


Having a small point and shoot camera is a fun way to be in the moment and capture your experiences without needing to share them right away on social media. It's a simple way to be artistic and experience a place in a different way because you're consciously looking around at minor details and angles. Save the battery by not looking at your shots on the camera, and wait until you load them onto your laptop.

Gym shoes

For lack of a better term, bring one pair of shoes that you can hike/walk in all day and have great support. Shoes take most of the room in your bag, and when you're traveling with just a carry-on it's helpful to wear your biggest shoe on the plane and keep your other shoes on the bottom of the bag. I end up bringing one pair of sneakers, running/workout shoes, and sandals.

Yoga mat

Traveling with a mat can sound unnecessary but who wants to do body movement on a questionable, dirty floor? I find a mat gives me a visual cue to stretch, workout, and meditate. Although it's normal to walk more on a trip, it's always helpful to practice self-care everyday to stay grounded in your body and not have to "start over" with your movement/meditation routine when you get home.

Mini bag

I'm a big fan of the waist or bum bag (aka fanny pack) to carry my absolute essentials while walking around. I like how it secures to my body either around my wait or across one of my shoulders. I usually have my wallet, extra cash, passport, vaccination card, chargers, phone, chapstick, a solid face/body balm, and essential oil roller. Make sure to make a copy of your passport and vaccination card and email it to yourself.