What to Pack in a Carry-On: 7 Simple Tips

‘Tis the season for airports, and packing, and travel – oh my! I’m heading out to Park City this week for a conference and, with all the travel I do for work, I’ve honed my carry-on packing routine to help make the travel experience as comfortable as possible. Whether you love to fly or hate it, these 7 simple tips will help make the in-air experience much more enjoyable!

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  • Keep a spare phone charger exclusively in your carry-on luggage. This way, you don’t have to worry about forgetting it when you leave home and if you leave it wherever you’re visiting, you’ll still have one when you get home late, exhausted, and with a dead phone from constantly scanning for wifi.
  • Stick with a neutral nail color and bring the polish with you for touch-ups. This obviously only applies if you care about this sort of thing and are as OCD about your nails as I am, but keeping the color neutral helps to hide chips that are bound to happen as soon as you haul your luggage into the plane’s overhead compartment. A couple of my favorites are here, here, and here, and this top coat is diesel for extending the life of your paint job (and drying quickly so you stand a better chance of not falling into the depths of rage over perfectly painted smudged tips).
  • Pack towelettes, moisturizing agents, and mist for your face en route. The air on planes is so dry and does a number on delicate facial skin. This may seem a bit high maintenance (when it comes to skincare, I am a machine. I take this ish very seriously. Would you be interested in a post about my routine?), but it really does keep your skin healthy and fresh, and helps you to look alive and ready to hit the ground running when you land. These are some of my go-to’s for clean, safe, and travel-friendly skincare options: face wipes, face mist, lip/under eye/overall moisturizing stick.
  • Prep Q-tips with Neosporin. This one is weird, but hear me out – if you coat your nostrils with Neosporin when you first get on the plane, it helps to ward off any sickies from the dry, germ-filled airplane air. A) it protects your nose from over drying and cracking, which can make you more vulnerable to germies and B) the anti-bacterial ointment wards off bacteria that can make you sick. Here’s the thing, believe me or don’t, but I swear this kept me healthy when I was traveling 5 days a week for 5 months last year. Risk/reward, folks.
  • Bring healthy snacks and a water bottle (and don’t forget to empty it before security). A full water bottle at security means either A) you have to toss it B) you have to chug it (and then sprint to a restroom, luggage in tote, trying not to slam into slow walkers…and that’s just the pits). So be prepared. But this is a great way to reduce plastic bottle waste and ensure you stay hydrated throughout your trip. For snacks, I always pack a couple of RX bars, a Fizz Stick, fresh sliced cucumbers / carrots / cauliflower, etc. so I can avoid Sophie’s Choice of packaged/processed airport food or being hangry.
  • Stow a shawl or big scarf in your tote for the plane. This is something I started to do after too many flights that got canceled or rescheduled and left me stranded in an airport or on a tarmac, feeling chilled and homesick. I have since started packing a large and lightweight scarf or ruana with me whenever I travel to use as a cover-up when needed. Bonus tip: I always spray mine with my favorite perfume beforehand as a comforting reminder of home.
  • Check the airports you’ll be flying from/into for a Read & Return program. If you’re like me and love to use flight time to burn through your never-ending “MUST READ” list, keep an eye out to see if the airports you’ll be in provide the option of swapping in your used book for an unread (by you) title at a 50% discount. This is a great way to recycle books that you’ve finished (so you don’t have to keep lugging them around) and stock up on new ones, all while saving a little cash money. Win, win, win!


What other tips do you have to make traveling as easy and efficient as possible? Let me know, below!

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