Carry-on Essentials: How to Pack Your Personal Item Bag for Flights

Here are all of my carry-on essentials while flying. This is what I pack in my personal item bag that I keep under the seat.

Flying is…not the most fun thing in the world. Being stuck on a plane for hours gets pretty uncomfortable, but it’s a necessary part of traveling the world! My carry-on essentials are all of the things that make flying just a little bit better.

Since I am a carry-on only traveler, my suitcase is always in the bin above me. But I also have my personal item with me, filled with all of the travel essentials I need to access while in transit. So just to clarify, this post is specifically about my personal item, not my carry-on suitcase.

I pack my personal item with ALL of the things I might need on the plane or in the airport. Even though I have a carry-on suitcase that is always with me, I don’t want to have to open it and dig through it to get something. So I try to be as prepared as possible with my in-flight bag.

It’s filled with the most important items, the valuable things I CANNOT lose, and all of my carry-on travel essentials. Since I keep it under the seat in front of me while flying, my eyes are always on it, and it’s always easy to access.

Whether you travel carry-on only or check your bags, make sure you’re prepared for your flight with the perfect carry-on essentials packing list!

backpack filled with carry-on essentials

Carry-On Essentials Packing List

Here’s a quick packing list of my carry-on essentials. Scroll down to get a more in-depth list and explanation of each item. I always bring these items with me on the plane!

notebook, wallet, kindle peeking out of a backpack

What I Keep in My Personal Bag

Best Personal Item Bag

Having the right personal item bag really helps to make the traveling experience that much better, so I’m glad I found the perfect one. This backpack is the right size, it’s stylish, and it has plenty of pockets to keep things organized. Read more about my favorite personal item bag here (because it’s so great, it deserved its own blog post), or check prices below.

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My In-Flight Essentials (What I Pack in my Personal Item)

flat lay with notebook, sunglasses, passport, and more


Since I’m a travel blogger and freelancer, I’m always working while I travel. So bringing my laptop with me is essential. I keep it in my personal item with me in my seat so I can grab it and get some work done in-flight.

I currently have a 15-inch HP laptop (in pale gold) that I love, but I’m looking into getting a smaller, lightweight laptop that’s easier to carry with me. If you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear them in the comments!


I’ve talked about my Kindle before, but it has changed the game for me. I love reading while I travel, and having every book I could possibly want in a lightweight device means I can read as much as I want without added weight to my backpack. Typically, about 50% of my time in-flight is spent reading!

I have the Kindle Paperwhite and absolutely love it.

Wallet & Passport

Of course I have to keep my wallet and passport on me at all times while traveling. I keep them in an easy-access front pocket on my backpack so I can grab them quickly as I go through the airport.


Again, of course I have my phone with me. I keep it right with my wallet and passport. I have an iPhone XR and use this as my camera as well (yup, every photo on this site was taken on an iphone). I have my headphones too!


When you carry electronics, you also have to carry the chargers to go along with them. I’ve got a charger for my laptop, my phone, and my Kindle. I usually have a spare phone charger as well, because the last thing I want is to be left without a phone/camera.

Power Adapter

A universal powder adapter is one of my most essential travel items. I love this Skross adapter because it works for any outlet type you might come across. I keep it in my personal item backpack so I can use it in the airport or on the plane (when they have outlets).


I’m never without my sunglasses. I keep them right in the glasses pocket of my backpack so I can grab them on the way to or from the airport (or on the plane if I’m trying to ward off chatty seatmates).

Beauty Essentials

I try not to go too heavy on the beauty products while traveling, and I try to keep my carry-on beauty products to a minimum. However, having certain items makes the flying experience much better, especially when I’m just trying to keep my skin hydrated!

Check out this post to see what beauty and makeup items I take in my carry-on bag.

Notebook & Pen

I’m a writer, and I have a slight obsession with notebooks. I like to journal, make lists, and write everything down. So a notebook and pen really comes in handy. Even if you’re not a notebook kind of person, at least bring a pen to fill out forms while you travel.

Reusable Water Bottle

It’s SO important to drink water while traveling, especially in-flight. You gotta stay hydrated, but disposable plastic bottles are so wasteful. Make sure you get a reusable bottle to travel with, so you can fill it up over and over again without buying bottled water.


You never know when you’re going to get hungry, and you never know what exactly will be available in-flight. Some flights might not have any meals or snacks, and some might just have the worst options. Bring your own snacks so you have something to eat when you need it.

As a vegetarian, this is especially important because I might not be able to eat what’s on offer. I usually bring almonds, Lara bars, and other healthy/easy snacks.


I have a lightweight, super-soft, blanket-style scarf that has become one of my favorite carry-on essentials. It’s surprising how handy it is while traveling, but I use it all the time. It works as a blanket on the plane, or just something extra to keep me warm and comfortable while sleeping (hostels don’t always provide the best blanket situation).

This is the type of scarf I bring (I couldn’t find an exact match). I have a black one, a white one, and a hot pink one.

Wool Socks

I don’t bring my wool socks on EVERY trip, but if I’m going to be away for a while, I like to have them. Having something warm and cozy helps on planes, especially on long-haul flights. And they come in handy if I end up doing any camping or cold-weather hiking.

That’s everything I keep in my carry-on backpack! Again, this is my personal item bag, not my carry-on suitcase with all my clothes. If you are trying to figure out how to pack your personal bag, hopefully this packing list was helpful.

I’d love to know what carry-on essentials you keep with you in-flight.

Get more packing tips:

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packing list carry-on essentials

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. By purchasing through these links, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Travel Daze is also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

By Courtney Minor

Wandering around and writing about it.


  1. Thank you so much for the backpack referral! Just went online and bought it for Alaska cruise and Denver long weekend trips coming up. Perfect! Oh, I also carry a tiny “first Aid’ kit that I created.


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