16 Must Pack Items for your Carry On - Travel Smart

Stoked on your travel plans? But your hating the prospect of a long haul flight? These 16 items will not only make the journey smoother, they will leave you feeling prepared and relieve that travel stress.


001 - ID & Cash

It goes without saying that you should always be carrying your passport. For starters you won't even be allowed to board the plane. Passports are a nightmare to lose though, so if you are going to be using an ID for situations outside travel (grabbing a beer during layovers) have another ID handy.

This leaves less chance of misplacing your all important passport + when you arrive at your destination you have another ID to take out with you further reducing your risk of passport theft or loss.

Cash is a big one! Not just cash for your final destination though. How many times have you had a layover or overnight stopover and thought, 'Man, I really feel like a coffee and a meal.'

Soon after you realize that you don't have the right currency so your going to have to cop a $3 bank fee for your $4 coffee. Better be a damn good coffee!

Good News! There is a simple fix- carry enough back up cash in the currencies you might be using. Don't go overboard though, you don't want to burden yourself with a bunch of random change from all over the world.

For those of us that hate carrying too much cash opt for a travel card. Most banks have them and they make your life far simpler and your travels a lot cheaper. They are perfect for stopovers and developed countries but be aware that third world countries still operate predominantly on cash- Do your research!

Another great positive for the trusty travel card (alliteration! BOOM!) is the minimal fees and flexibility. The card I have has zero fees on all purchases and stores over 10 different currencies at once (think its like 13).

The card will automatically use the right currency depending on your current destination. This makes life a lot simpler and is my preferred method of payment while traveling. The card cost me $15 but will save me close to $1000 in fees over the three years it is valid for.

See Also - The 30 Essential Items that Every traveler Needs in 2018


002 - Inflatable pillow/ Micro bead pillow

I used to think Pillows were an idiots choice, umm hello people the chair has a head rest. I quickly learnt that I am an idiot and the headrests suck! Longhaul flight entertainment is incredible nowadays but if you want to feel fresh on arrival then you should probably do everything you can to get a good sleep.

The first step is a comfortable pillow, here are two options:

Inflatable Pillow
Inflatable pillows are great for saving space in your carry on but I hate sleeping on air, its just weird. If you don't mind the air under your head and want to save space for other items then opt for the inflatable pillow.

Micro Bead Pillow
Yes, Yes, All of the Yes! These are my jam, micro bead pillows are generally shaped better than their air filled cousins and mold perfectly to your neck, head and surroundings.

If your carry on is big enough (It should be unless you are taking a bunch of crap you just don't need) you will easily have the space to cram one in.


003 - Eye Mask

Here is your second item in the recipe for successful flight sleep, drum roll please! ...eye mask. Yeah so not the most exciting item on the list but one of the most useful. Dimmed lights on a flight do jack s##t, let's be honest.

Their is always some bookworm or highly productive blogger cranking the reading light to it's full potential and those pesky fluro escape lights always find their way past your tiny eye lids (think safety is kind of a priority though).

Eye masks fix this solution in the most simple way possible and you can't say you don't have the room.

See Also - 61 Things to Do, See, Taste & Feel in Melbourne

Eye mask or this? Your choice...

Eye mask or this? Your choice...

004 - Ear Plugs/ Noise Cancelling Headphones

So in general we are affected more by sound than visual stimulation so it makes sense to try and block out that crying baby or that dude that snores like a 160,000 horse power jet engine (no offence meant dude). Ear Plugs are a cheaper option but often fall out and are kind of weird feeling. If you have the spare money then invest in some noise canceling headphones, you won't regret it!


005 - A Blanket

Sounds lame I know but guess what you will be thanking me when that tiny piece of s##t airline blanket just doesn't cut the mustard. You might be thinking, 'Hey dumbass, how the hell do I fit a huge blanket in my carry on.' Well you don't.

Invest some coin in a decent microfiber thermo-blanket. They pack down to nothing but offer incredible warmth.

This is a sleeping bag liner. It's like a giant sock for your body! It's awesome.

This is a sleeping bag liner. It's like a giant sock for your body! It's awesome.

006 - DSLR or Video Capable Camera

I am assuming a lot of you readers are photographers. Most travelers now days are and you are reading a blog from a website based on photo/film. Paulo and I always carry our camera gear with us, bottom line we don't trust having $15-$20k worth of equipment anywhere else but with us.

For those of you with just the one point and shoot or DSLR, bring it with you. You will regret not having it when that epic view of Mt Fuji comes into view perfectly framed by the plane window.


007 - Hand Sanitiser

This is a simple one guys. Planes are dirty, people are dirty and guess what your dirty. We all carry germs and although I am a big believer in building my immunity and not being a sick all the time clean freak. Travel is different.

You are going to new places and being exposed to new germs that your body is most likely defenceless to. Keep those hands clean and avoid eating or touching your face without sanitising first.


008 - Compression Socks

Economy class is cramped and sitting for any prolonged period of time with limited movement is 'No Beuno.' Deep vein thrombosis aka 'Economy Class Syndrome' is no joke. Sitting in cramped conditions can lead to dangerous blood clots so be sure to move around often, take walks when possible and jam those compression socks.


009 - Toothbrush & Toiletries

Hands up if you hate that post flight cotton mouth, smelly breath feeling. Here's an easy fix, bring a toothbrush and toothpaste and give your pearly whites a regular brush. While you are at it bring some personal hygiene items.

I personally like to bring; moisturizer, deodorant, personal medication and body/face wipes.


010 - Books & Magazines

In case you have been living under a rock for 20 years, us humans now have these things called smartphones which we are unhealthily obsessed with. They also happen to ruin your chances of sleeping, actually any screen that emits a blue light will.

Blue light actually causes the brain to release chemicals that trigger the wake up process. That's no good for those who are looking to fall asleep after their half hourly FB check up or 2nd in flight movie.

The best fix is to bring your latest book/kindle/magazine along for the trip. Here's an idea, read a book about the destinations you are visiting.

See Also - 34 Podcasts to Listen to while Traveling

This is what  I am reading  at the moment and it is awesome

This is what I am reading at the moment and it is awesome

011 - Sleep Aids

Sleeping pills are great for some but in my opinion they suck. If I am going to bring sleeping aids I will always opt for the natural alternative, melatonin. Sleeping pills can leave you with a real nasty case of drowsiness post sleep which I hate.

Melatonin on the other hand is natural, the brain actually releases melatonin to get you sleeping. Take the minimum dose and feel that peaceful sleepiness set in within the hour.


012 - Food & Water

Meals are often not quite enough on a long haul flight, so keep snacks on hand and keep that 'Hangry' feeling at bay. We all need water and most of us hate having to bug the attendant for constant water refills.

Bring a large water bottle and fill it up post security checks. I bring a 1 Litre and it works for me.

Don't be like the Seagulls off Finding Nemo. Bring snacks!

Don't be like the Seagulls off Finding Nemo. Bring snacks!

013 - Pen & Paper

Having a pen is a must to fill in your arrival cards before landing. Why the paper then? I tend to note down ideas or brainstorm content ideas while I travel. You might have some work to do or have your own brain waves to write down so bring a notebook along for the ride.

If nothing else, you can use it to play a social game of naughts and crosses with your flight mate. Or better still grab the cute flight attendants digits.


014 - Chewing Gum

Settle down Petal! I am not saying your breathe stinks, I mean it might.. I don't know ask your mates. No. Chewing gum has another purpose when flying.

A piece of chewing gum can relieve that pressure in your ears, freshen your breath post snack and it also helps perk you up after a nap by stimulating the brain. As the Dilmah ad says, 'Do Try It!"


015 - Laptop

If you are hungry to be successful in that new start up of yours or simply need to complete a work assignment or Uni thesis, here's your chance. Use the down time and turn it into a productive laptop work session.

Paulo and I use this time to edit videos, write scripts and smash out a blog or two. Here is a great travel option if you have some cash to splash- CLICK HERE


016 - Fresh Undies

Don't be a grubby bugger. If you are in transit for a large amount of time give yourself a clean with those body wipes you brought, change your undies and throw on a fresh shirt. While your at it give your feet a clean man! Ain't no body got time for smelly plane foot syndrome.


This is a list of must haves for me and if you pack right you will still have some space for a couple personal preference items. If you have a tiny little carry on bag and you are thinking... 'Umm.. This list ain't gunna work Jacques.'

Then chances are you are not taking advantage of your carry on restrictions, invest in a bag closer to 30L it will still be well within restrictions and will easily fit what you need.

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Life is Great. Travel is Better.
Paulo & Jacques