The Ultimate Carry-On Only Packing List

Carry-on Packing List

Need a little help packing light? Every time I travel with the carry-on, making a list really helps me! And with this new carry-on bag packing list, you will remember all the essentials for your trip, wherever you’re going!

Carry-on Packing Tips

Packing right is so important: if you forget an essential item, you will be scrambling to find the nearest store in your destination instead of enjoying your trip to the fullest. However, if you pack too much, you’ll be burdened with heavy bags and will be paying extra for the airline baggage fees. So I would like to use some of the most useful carry-on packing rules that every traveler should learn.

1. Check Your Airline’s Baggage-fee Policy

Figuring out the airlines’ baggage-fee policies is key to any budget packing strategy. More and more airlines offer cheaper and basic fares for flights and baggage fee policies change often. So, if you haven’t flown with an airline for a while, you should check the airline website, chances are, fees could change. This is something you should do before you buy your plane ticket. Pay even more attention to budget airlines, including Spirit Airlines and Frontier, they can charge up to $100 for carry-on bags! 

2. Don’t Fold, Roll 

Rolling is way more efficient than folding. Plus, your clothes will be less prone to getting deep wrinkles from fold creases.

3. Make a Packing List (Or Use Mine)

Start your packing process a few days ahead of your departure date; this gives you time to make a complete list (by using my list below) and purchase any items you might need for your trip. A packing list is a fail-safe way to ensure that you never forget anything important.

4. Remember the 3-1-1 Rule

If you don’t follow the TSA 3-1-1 rule for carry-on luggage and bring a large bottle of shampoo through security, the TSA will likely confiscate your stuff which will hold you up in line. Get familiar with the TSA rules: the most important one is that all liquids brought in the carry-on must be in 3.4-ounce bottles or smaller and inside a single, clear, quart-size zip-top bag.

To find out what is considered liquids or gels by TSA, use the 3-1-1 rule. A simple reminder: foods such as peanut butter, pudding, mashed potatoes and items like mascara, lip gloss, and aerosol items are classified as liquids or gels. Read more on that on the TSA Website

5. Bring Your Personal Item 

Most airlines permit travelers to bring one carry-on bag and one personal item onboard. This personal item is subject to specific size requirements, which vary by airline, but something like a purse, laptop bag, or backpack is usually acceptable. Again, check the airline website for more information and pay special attention to budget airlines. 

Don’t waste your personal item on a tiny purse. I usually bring a larger bag that I can put under the seat and put a smaller bag inside it. This will come in handy for keeping all of the things I’ll need to be on hand during the flight. 

6. Use Packing Hacks

My all-time favorite packing hack is the compression sacs. These are essential for traveling with a carry-on. The will shrivel your clothes into a vacuum-packed, tiny, tight bundle that takes up minimal space. I also like to take my packing cubes and the toiletry organizer for easier organization.

Carry-On Bag Packing List

Use my packing list below to stay organized and be on top of it: 

Carry-on Essentials:

  • Passport/visa
  • Copies of important documents
  • Identification/School ID
  • Cell phone
  • Boarding pass/tickets
  • Insurance cards
  • Electronics chargers
  • Voltage adapter
  • Wallet
  • Camera
  • Cash
  • Credit cards

Clothes and Shoes

  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Undershirts/bras
  • Sleepwear
  • T-shirts
  • Dress shirt
  • Casual shirts
  • Jeans
  • Pants
  • Shorts
  • Dresses
  • Skirt
  • Swimsuits and cover-ups
  • Coat/rain jacket
  • Hat
  • Leisure shoes
  • Hiking/athletic shoes
  • Dress shoes
  • Sandals/flip-flops
  • Belts
  • Ties
  • Jewelry
  • Small purse
  • Toiletry Bag

Winter Carry-on Packing Extras:

  • Snow/rain boots (wear your bulkiest pair on the plane)
  • Gloves
  • Scarves
  • Sweaters/sweatshirts

Toiletry Bag Packing List

Remember, that the liquids should be in containers no larger than 3.4 ounces and fit into a clear, quart-size, zip-top plastic bag. Learn more about TSA rules

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Soap
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Brush/comb
  • Hairstyling appliances
  • Facial cleanser
  • Face lotion/gel/etc.
  • Sunscreen
  • Moisturizer
  • Contact lenses/solution
  • Shaving supplies
  • Makeup
  • Makeup remover
  • Feminine-hygiene products
  • Nail file/clippers
  • Tweezers
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Bandages


  • Band-aids
  • Medications
  • Ibuprofen
  • Thermometer
  • Probiotics

Don’t Forget These

  • Chewing gum
  • Snacks
  • Headphones
  • Umbrella
  • Lip balm

Sometimes you need a lot more than a small carry-on! If that’s the case, use my awesome printable and editable Packing List Template!

Carry-on Packing List

Feel free to print out and save the packing list and let me know in the comments what tips do you use for packing light!

5/5 - (1 vote)
Hi, I'm Marina, passionate traveler and blogger, based in the United States and travelling the world. Thanks for following me on my life and travel adventures!

1 Comment

  1. Maria
    January 16, 2020

    This is a helpful list for anybody who travels. No matter how often I travel, I always forget something. Even if I make a list, I still forget something. Thanks!


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