What to Pack in a Carry-On: The Ultimate Carry On Packing List

I’m typing this from gate A13 at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where I’m stuck YET AGAIN because of a certain airline’s apparent inability to get its ish together. Not naming names, but it rhymes with Schmerican Schmairlines. By the time you’re reading this, hopefully I’m in San Antonio drinking a margarita. (**EDITED to say that I found the best salted watermelon margarita in town, so I’m a happy camper. 😉 Also edited to say that I’m finishing up editing at 5:45 am before heading to the airport AGAIN, and I think I need another watermelon margarita already…) Pretty sure they’re out to get me at this point, since this is the second time in a matter of months that I’ve ended up stuck in Texas…

But right now, all I have is my venti Starbucks (cos everything’s bigger here, amiright?) and my carry-on.

With traveling more and more for work (and for J’s job, too), I’ve found myself with an ongoing tab on my phone of all of the supposedly no-brainer things that I woulda/shoulda/coulda packed along for every adventure, but forgot. Or just forgot to have in my carry-on specifically. So I’m guessing/hoping that I’m not the only one with this issue??? Commiserate with me, wouldja? 😉

SO, here’s my all-inclusive, all-expansive, completely comprehensive carrying on packing list. What to pack in a carry-on, what you’ll probably forget to bring (but shouldn’t), etc. Just call it what to pack in a carry-on 101. 🙂

What to Pack in a Carry On (+ what you'll forget, but shouldn't!) - The Ultimate Carry On Packing List by popular Philadelphia travel blogger Coming Up Roses

First thing’s first: My go-to carry-on for years now has been a weekender bag. I lovelovelove (I have two of them!). It fits #AllTheThings and is sturdy as heck. It’s just easier for me to have something on my shoulder and another on the ground on wheels instead of coordinating two wheeled things, since we all know I’m not exactly ballerina-material. HA.

My backpack was a Christmas gift from J – it’s a Kate Spade that’s out of stock currently, but !


What to Pack in a Carry On (+ what you'll forget, but shouldn't!) - The Ultimate Carry On Packing List by popular Philadelphia travel blogger Coming Up Roses

  • Sweater – Planes are either sub-zero cold or burning up. I dress for the weather but try to layer whenever possible; wear something short-sleeved and pack the cardigan to go!
  • Spare outfit –  Including spare panties. You just never know…
  • 1 pair leggings – A travel must. More often than not I’m flying in leggings. If I’m not, it’s only because of Instagram. HA.
  • 1 pair sneakers – I’m also usually flying in sneakers. For the life of me, I will never understand the Kardashians who fly in stilettos.


What to Pack in a Carry On (+ what you'll forget, but shouldn't!) - The Ultimate Carry On Packing List by popular Philadelphia travel blogger Coming Up Roses

  • Makeup removing wipes – I typically don’t fly with makeup on anyways, but it’s always helpful to have a refreshing wipe on hand in case plans change, etc.
  • Micellar water – I FORGOT MICELLAR ON THIS TRIP ARGH. Seriously tho, micellar is a gift from Jesus Christ. It’s like makeup remover and cleanser in one.
  • Makeup – I travel with my makeup bag in my carry-on always justbecause. Can’t risk anything happening to my Jaclyn Hill palette or lipstick collection, as that would be a travesty.
  • Lip balm – Obvi.
  • Deodorant – I actually am in the process of trying out new aluminum-free deodorants (apparently aluminum, which is in many deodorants to help with antiperspirant properties, is linked to breast cancer???)
  • Hand lotion – My usual rideordie is the Bath & Body Works Shea Cashmere hand cream (actually cheaper at that link than in the store – it’s BOMBDOTCOM, yo), but right now I’ve got another B&B Works hand cream in my bag – it’s the new Honey Butter, Hands Off My Honey Golden Honey Hand Cream. It smells like actual heaven.
  • Hair tie/bobby pin – I use bobby pins slightly more than oxygen. And I’m always losing all of them all at once. So always have an extra on-and in your carry-on!
  • Spongelle – is awesome. I first got one in a FabFitFun box – they’re like pre-loaded loufa sponges that are cute + compact + small amaaaazing. They say you can get 14 uses out of one, but TBH I get a little more I think – if/when the pre-loaded soap is done in it, you can just put your own body wash one it and it works fabulously as a gentle exfoliant for easy travel.
  • Cherry Blossom travel bag – This makeup bag was sent to me via PR and I’m OBSESSED. It’s big enough to hold everything, but it has this inner compartment, too, to keep your makeup organized + not bouncing around everywhere, AND it has outer compartments for brushes, etc. SUPER convenient, and I haven’t had a single piece of makeup break in travels yet (*knock on wood*).
  • Fragrance rollerball – I lovelovelove throwing rollerballs or little perfume samples in my bag pretty much always for a quick pickmeup.



What to Pack in a Carry On (+ what you'll forget, but shouldn't!) - The Ultimate Carry On Packing List by popular Philadelphia travel blogger Coming Up Roses

  • Travel wallet with passport – I mean, this one’s a given.
  • Laptop – I keep my laptop in my backpack versus carry-on when flying so that it’s right there if I need anything.
  • iPad – Also a goody to have on hand!
  • Chargers – Gotta charge #AllTheThings
  • Planner – Both of my planners (life + work) travel with me always. They don’t leave my side. My go-to life planner for years now has been this one – I 100% recommend (let me know if you’d want/need a full post on planner schtuff!)
  • Socks – Am I the only one whose toes are always FREEEEEZING on flights?!?! No matter what kinda shoes I wear, it’s bad. I learned the hard way after the most absurd re-routing from Philly -> Chicago that went Philly -> South Carolina -> Texas -> Chicago that socks are an absolute non-negotiable in the carry-on.
  • Blanket scarf – It’s a fashion accessory and a built-in blanket in one…not sure how much more airport-ready you could get, folks. P.S. ICYMI, if ya wanna/needta know how to wear a blanket scarf, here are 10 new ways to try out.
  • Contact solution – I actually rarely fly in my contacts. I’ve been getting the (bad) habit lately of accidentally falling asleep/taking a nap with contacts in, and OH MAN is that no bueno when ya wake up. Literally almost gave myself pink eye because of it. Sooooo yeah, no contacts on flights. But contact solution is always important to have on hand justicase.
  • Water bottle (empty) – To refill + refuel in air, without spending an absurd amount of $$$ for airport water
  • Gum – For when you accidentally fall asleep with your mouth open in the plane and realize you reaaaaaally want/need some Orbit now…
  • Good book (or 2) – Planes are my sacred reading time! I rarely get to read otherwise (strike that – I rarely make time otherwise…but I want to and can and should start ASAP), so travel time is the best time to get through something start-to-finish. I’ve currently got Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free + The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck on hand. Two super different reads, clearly. 😉
  • Snack(s) – ALL THE SNACKS. I’ve got a big bag o’ candy waiting for me in a few hours. Super stoked.


  • Headphones – How does one forget headphones for a flight?!?! Apparently, I do. Every time. And then with the dang iPhone 7+, I forget that little headphone jack thingermabobber. Never again.
  • Hand sanitizer – Planes are kinda sorta totally gross, when ya think about it. I sanitize like a queen anymore!
  • Neck pillow – I to this day don’t have one of those funky neck pillow things. J has one (which I bought for him – go figure!), but I don’t have my own, and I’m constantly trying to steal his when he’s not looking. 😉 But really, I’m sick of neck cramps from falling asleep in weird positions in flights. A necessary, worthwhile investment.

RELATED POST: What to Pack for an All-Inclusive Resort (+ What I always forget to pack, but shouldn’t!)


Anything you’d add to this carry on packing list?

If you’d an expert traveler, would lovelovelove to hear your expert packing tips in a comment below!

Also quick poll…where’s your favorite place to travel??? I’m fleshing out a master travel bucket list, so if you’ve got recommendations, pleasepleaseplease help a sistah out and let me know. 🙂

P.S. ICYMI, there’s a huuuuuuuuge TARGET GIVEAWAY happening right here!

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