HOW TO PACK A CARRY ON {or Carry-on Necessities for the Pampered Traveler}

After recently returning from a wonderful stint across the pond, I found my love of travel to be greatly reaffirmed… and my hatred of airplanes {recycled air, cramped quarters, and hundreds of passengers with the sniffles} magnified.  To make the most of a long flight, pack some of these essentials to land feeling as pampered and refreshed as possible.
*Everything listed below is “travel size” {i.e. TSA allows it to be carried on an airplane… make sure liquids are in a ziplock bag!}

Hair Texturizer, Hairspray, Hair Ties & Bobby Pins {in your hair color} – Something about airplanes always turns my straight hair into a tangled-uber-frizzy-ball-of-fur.  To combat this, I typically throw my hair into a messy-chic pony upon landing.  A little texturizer on the tail, bobby pins to hold back the bangs {I like to twist them for added style}, & hairspray to smooth the whole look.  Now you have hair that is sleek and polished instead of a catastrophic mess.
Sleeping Mask – I seem to always sit near the individual who feels the need to keep their window shade open throughout the duration of the flight.  This tends to result in a great deal of sun reflecting directly into my eyes; this, needless to say, interferes with my desire to get some much needed rest.  A cute sleeping mask solves this in a pinch {and keeps neighbors from attempting any unwanted conversation}.
Midsized Clutch – Don’t just throw your essentials in a ziplock bag… Throw them in a ziplock bag and then put them inside a clutch.  This keeps things neat and gives you another accessory for your trip without taking up additional room.
Headache Medicine – The stress of travel and airports and all kinds of things can lead to a headache attack at the worst possible moment {like 35,000 feet in the air}.  Nip it in the bud with your favorite headache reliever.
Kleenex – I blame the recycled airplane air for the frequent sniffles that seem to befall most passengers on the plane an hour or so into the trip.  Wiping your nose on your sleeve is uncivilized.  Have a kleenex handy.
iPhone with Headphones – Great environment control.  Annoying neighbor? Headphones in and turn that music up.  Too much noise to sleep? Headphones in and start your white noise application.  Horrible movie choices? Headphones in and play one of the flicks you downloaded before the flight.  Basically, my airplane sanity.
Tinted Lipbalm – Upon landing, you’ll likely look a bit washed out and tired.  Some tinted lip balm helps to distract from this tragic airplane side effect.
Solid perfume – A traveling essential.  Rub some behind your ears and on your wrists for an instant pick-me-up.

Neosporin – Dab a little inside your nose before take off to help combat airplane germs.
Mouthwash – Breathing recycled air for 10 hours? Trust me… You need mouthwash.
Contacts & Eyedrops – If you’re anything like me {um. blind as a bat.}, then you’ll want a little I’d-like-to-be-able-to-see-when-I-land backup.  Recycled air will dry up those contacts… So use some eyedrops {even if you’re not a lens wearer} and have some extra lenses handy.
Facewipes – I always start my flight wearing minimal makeup {a bit of foundation and a couple swipes of mascara on the upper lashes only… you don’t want raccoon eyes after your midair nap}.  However, the foundation looks like a spotty mess at the end of the trip because of sleeping {directly on my face} and the dry air.  I wipe it all off with a moisturizing facewipe to ensure that I have a blank canvas to work with when I get to my hotel.
Deodorant – 10+ hour flight? This is self-explanatory. Use it.
Toothpaste & Toothbrush – When there is about an hour left of fly-time, I get up to brush my teeth.  It helps to wake you up {airplanes have a tendency to leave all of us a bit groggy} and triggers to your brain that this is the start of a new day {important when you’re fighting a massive time difference}.
Chapstick – apply frequently during the flight.  Dry lips can lead to cracked lips.  Cracked lips can lead to unnecessary misery on your trip {and they make a horrible base for fabulously bright lipstick that you’ll certainly want to wear}.
Hand Lotion, Body Lotion, & Cuticle Balm – At some point during my flight {and sometimes twice}, I like to go through a moisturizing ritual.  Arms, neck, hands, cuticles.  It’s amazing how much moisturizing helps with looking and feeling refreshed when you land.

What do you pack to make your long flights easier?


  1. Nadja says

    From what I know, lip balm ususally doubles as a cuticle balm too, if it is not too sticky.

  2. Victoria says

    Mini aromatherapy oils, in a rollerball. Pashmina to wrap up in when it gets chilly on the plane.

  3. Kity Kat says

    Dont forget vitamins! There is a great brand called Oxylent, created by an flight-attendant, they come in little packets (similar to emergen-c) but much better quality of vitamins and with more electrolites, etc. Perfect for flying! I dont travel without it. The b-12 in it also is a great pick-me up for your jetlag!

    • Kity Kat says

      oh and instead of a mashmina a large infinity scarf! you can wrip it twice around your neck to carry on the plane and wrap up in it on the plane without taking up space in your bag!

  4. Roro says

    I know it takes up more precious room, but I always like to pack an extra dress or pants and a top. Checked bags get lost often, and it’s better to have something just incase you land and your bag is not with the others. That way you won’t have to re-wear the stinky airplane clothes for a few days 🙂

    • Kiki E says

      Thank you, Lillian! I actually picked up the clutch at a random store in Los Angeles… it doesn’t even have a tag in it!! I absolutely adore it!

  5. Johanna says

    Love these tips! I’m going on a 12-hour trip for a conference in a couple of weeks with ten other people -two compact cars with five people per car- I will definitely keep these travel essentials with me in my tote bag to freshen up along the way at a rest stop. By the way I love the eye mask and clutch they are both simply chic!

  6. Jarlene Skjolingstad says

    can’t forget gum! I once had the worst ear-splitting pain in my ear (pun intended!) from the cabin pressure upon landing, doubled with the pain in the rear it is dealing with normal airport situations. Chewing gum before descending helps reduce the pressure greatly!

  7. Deb N-G says

    Socks or slippers to keep my feet warm once I take off my shoes (and I make sure to wear shoes that are easy to take off and get back on). Small spritz bottle of plain water–spraying my face several times mid-flight feels SO good. Nail-clipper to cut the annoying hangnail before it becomes a problem. Panty liners applied before and during flight allowing for, ahem, fresher undergarments than might otherwise be true. My Kindle Paperwhite is a must-have. And lately: noise-cancelling headphones have been a life-saver. And, I know this won’t fit in that cute clutch, but I’ve started bringing my own, static electricity resistant blanket (but I’m probably one of the highest maintenance travelers you’ll ever come across).

    • Kiki E says

      Hi, Annette! I found them at a local drugstore in Santa Barbara. You can also buy them on the J.R. Watkins website {}… I hope that helps!

  8. dani says

    I appreciate everyone’s need to feel “fresh” but please think twice about applying perfume, lotions, or any scented product on the plane. I have had more than one trip ruined by scents that triggered asthma or migraine attacks.

    • Kiki E says

      I totally understand this, dani… I, too, am a migraine sufferer. Take note: keep fragrances light or lotions fragrance free! xoxo

  9. Tina says

    Me, my boyfriend, my mom and my aunt are going to Los Angeles in March for my late birthday present and the fastest way there is by plane but I have never been on one before and I am very scared heights. Is there anything I can do to help with that?

    • Kiki E says

      The best advice I can think of is to stay distracted. Load your phone with music you love. Download movies that will keep your interest on your iPad. Bring a stack of magazines or books to keep you occupied. Let your mom, aunt, & boyfriend know that you are a bit trepidatious so they can help with conversation and distraction. Also, stay focused on the result of getting on the plane: you get to go to Los Angeles {an incredible city packed with amazing things to do, see, eat, and experience}! Wishing you all the best!!! Here’s to conquering your fears!!

  10. laura says

    my hair likes to become very oily and limp when i fly long trips (15+ hours)– do you have any recommendations on what to bring to prevent this??

  11. Jess says

    Found you on Pinterest! Love the advice! How big would you say your clutch is and can it really fit all of those goodies? Thanks! Going on a trip to Costa Rica and trying to pack efficiently.

  12. Marianne says

    I always like to bring a little pack of sanitizer wipes so that I can clean my chair arms, seat tray and anything else I may touch during the flight.

  13. Emma says

    Another thing you can use a tinted lip balm for is a quick cream blush. Just 1-2 dabs on each cheek depending on the tint and rub in. TADA!