Carry-on is essential for any self-respecting traveller. But it can be difficult to decide what to put inside and what to leave behind. The number of flight hours, stopovers or even the number of kilos allowed by the airline can play a role in your choice.
If we could, we’d probably take our whole house with us, wouldn’t we?
In any case, here are the essentials you should always have with you when you travel.

Save it for later!

1. Important documents

This is probably the most important part of this post. You should ALWAYS carry priceless documents with you.

Your passport is a given, since you’ll need it to board the plane and check in. You should also have your visa documents printed out, as well as your insurance certificate.

These are the essentials you absolutely must have in your bag!

My advice is to take photos of everything (passport included) and save them on my phone, just in case I lose everything or my documents are destroyed by bad weather. The humidity in Cambodia has already destroyed some of my travel documents, and I was lucky enough to have them duplicated.

> If you need help planning the perfect vacation, read my article here!

2. Something warm

Scarf to have in your carry-on luggage
Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash

Too hot? Too cold? You’ll never know how you feel on a plane, although I bet half of us tend to get cold on a flight. That’s why you always have these blankets on hand in case the altitude and temperature don’t suit you.

But here’s the thing: in general, I don’t really feel comfortable using them. I mean, I’m pretty sure they only get folded up and reused, so when you think about how many flights the company has a day… it’s a bit scary and unhygienic, isn’t it?

That’s why I prefer to have what I call a multi-purpose scarf that I can use as my own blanket. I always find a way to use it in other situations (as a shoulder cover in Asia, for example) and it’s not like it takes up much space in my bag!

3. Travel pillow

I’m one of those people who love sleeping on planes, I must admit. Especially when my flight lasts more than 8 hours. But I have to say that it’s pretty rare to find cozy seats, let alone little headrests. My head always tends to fall forward when I fall asleep, which ends up waking me up and preventing me from resting.

And I don’t need to describe the pain in my neck afterwards when I finally get to sleep….

The best solution I’ve found so far is the travel pillow. It holds my neck correctly and I don’t have to worry about sleep interruptions. Foldable, lightweight, with shoulder support, many options now exist to the delight of weary travelers.

4. Earphones or headphones

As with the blanket, I always carry a pair of headphones. The ones supplied on the plane are either the kind that make your ears hurt after 20 minutes of use, or simply not the best.

The fact is, sometimes you don’t even want or aren’t interested in what the in-flight programming has to offer. So, if you’ve already downloaded your favorite series and want to watch it over and over again during your long-haul flight, you’d better have some quality headphones with you!

5. Medicine

Whether you’re scared to death of flying, prone to headaches or other problems, it can be very handy to have some medication on hand.

It’s true that you’ll easily find common medicines in every country in the world, so you can simply take the ones you’re used to and that suit you: paracetamol, anti-diarrhoea, stomach remedies….

6. Toiletries

Toiletries to have in your carry-on
Photo by pmv chamara on Unsplash

Having a few essentials, especially for a long flight, is a minimum comfort for me. Toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant are the main items I always take with me, whatever happens.
Just the idea of not taking a shower for sometimes more than a day is annoying enough, but if I have to smell bad on top of that…. Let’s just say it’s a big no and I at least need a little hygiene.

You can also bring lip balm and a cleanser or soap to clean your face and feel refreshed!

7. Reusable Water bottle

Have you ever bought water at the airport? If so, you’ve seen how exorbitant the prices are (like everything else at the airport) – what a joke, right? Paying double or triple for something as natural as water is not only unreasonable, it’s also a bit annoying.

That’s why I decided to bring a reusable water bottle, which you simply empty before going through security. What’s more, most of the time you can refill it afterwards, as you’ll find water fountains at your disposal.

With this, I’m sure I’ve saved hundreds of euros!

8. Powerbank

A real essential without which I can’t travel! My powerbank has saved my life in many situations, and not just on long-haul flights.

Whether it was when my battery ran out and I was about to get lost while hiking in Southeast Asia: it was my powerbank that kept my phone working to consult the map offline. Or when I was waiting at the airport during a long layover with no power outlet available… I’m always happy and grateful to have this precious object with me!

9. Camera, laptop

Camera and laptop to include in your carry-on
Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

Even if I could put them in checked luggage, I never would, because my laptop and camera are the most fragile items I choose to take with me.

I love taking videos of my travels, so I chose to invest in an action camera. Small, easy to carry and lightweight, it has become indispensable for me. As for my laptop, I only take it with me on long trips, when I know I’ll be staying in a particular place for several months. Otherwise, I tend to leave it behind, especially if I know I won’t really be using it since I’ll be spending most of my time exploring my surroundings.

Needless to say, my phone is the first item I pack in my carry-on luggage. In the digital age, it’s hard to do without it anyway!

10. Cash and bank cards

Well, you can’t really travel without them too! Before I leave on my trip, I exchange money in the local currency, enough for a week.

Then I take two cards with me, just in case one of them doesn’t work. One is the N26 card, because their customer service is fast and reliable and the app is really easy to use. The other is simply the card I use at home.

I hope this article helps you choose what to put in your hand luggage. However, don’t forget that you shouldn’t overload your luggage, whether it’s your checked bag or the one you take with you on the plane. You’ll end up taking too many things that won’t be of any use to you. And don’t forget that you can always buy what you need in the country you’re going to.
As long as you have these essentials, you can enjoy your trip and travel worry-free!

And if you’re wondering how to save money when traveling abroad, check out this post!

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