Keep calm and carry-on

Think back to your last travel adventure. Was there an item in your carry-on that you never used? What didn’t you think to bring that you wish you had?

Travellers in an airport

We asked six travellers what they carry in their own carry-ons.

  • Bob works in the travel industry, flying all over the world, often on long-haul flights.
  • David is a computer consultant, who has worked in England, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Denmark and the U.S.
  • Kate works in the financial services industry – in large part to fund her travel habit.
  • Robert works for a pharmaceutical company and travels both for business and pleasure.
  • April is a self-employed mother of a six-year-old who keeps her busy both on and off flights.
  • Jonathan grew up travelling and now travels often for business. He doesn’t leave home without his electronics. 

We used their tips to build our very own comprehensive carry-on checklist.


The ultimate carry-on list

The basics:

  • Travel documents (passport, tickets, boarding passes)
  • Some local currency to get you out of the airport, and for tips and snacks
  • A bottle of water (purchased after security) and a snack
  • Prescription medications, in their original prescription containers
  • A pen, for filling in luggage tags and customs information

Kate recommends: “I know I’ll always have my travel docs in my carry-on, so I keep a few things with them so they’re handy: my parking stub and parking spot location; the contact info for the car or driver meeting me at my destination; and the name, address and phone number of my hotel.”

The entertainment items:

  • A book or magazine
  • Destination travel guide

Bob recommends: “Remember to put your reading glasses in your carry-on.”

  • A pen and notebook

Robert recommends: “Instead of a notebook, I take sticky notes, which are smaller and lighter.”

  • Ear buds or headphones (even if you don’t carry electronics, so you can use your own for the in-flight entertainment system)

The electronics:

  • Phone and/or tablet
  • Phone and tablet charger

​Robert recommends: “Most planes and hotels have a USB charge point these days; take your charge cord, but pack the block in your checked baggage.”

The business essentials

  • Laptop and charger
  • Wireless mouse
  • USB stick

Jonathan recommends: “Don’t forget extra batteries for your portable mouse.”

David recommends: “I own my own business, so I take business cards along; when fellow business travellers ask what I do for a living, they often ask for one.”

The comforts of home:

  • Tooth brush and travel-size toothpaste or travel-size mouthwash
  • Travel-size deodorant for overnight flights
  • Lip balm
  • Moisturizer
  • Gum or mints
  • Ear plugs
  • Sleep mask
  • Advil or Tylenol and Gravol
  • Neck pillow
  • Hand sanitizer

Kate recommends: “On long flights, I change out of my shoes, into flip flops or anti-compression socks for the flight”

April recommends: “When I travel with my six-year-old, I carry markers and pens, and a blanket so he can get comfy.”

The “just in case my luggage gets lost” items:

  • Change of socks and underwear

Robert recommends: “Wear shoes that are versatile (weather and events) in case your luggage is delayed.”

Make your own carry-on list

Copy the items from this list that you want to carry-on. Save the list on your computer so your carry-on is complete every time.

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