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Holiday Packing List: The Ultimate Carry-on Checklist

Call it a holiday packing list, or shoving everything you own in a suitcase list – at the end of the day, a carry-on holiday packing list is a necessity to ensure you’re covered from take-off to landing. As a recovering over-packer and seasoned traveler, I can vouch for this carefully crafted ultimate holiday packing checklist.  

Whether you’re traveling with extra luggage or only a carry-on, you never want to leave something behind.

For many, the plane ride serves as a place to daydream about the adventures that lie ahead and the last thing you want to do is forget to pack that neck pillow for your 14-hour flight (been there, done that).

We are all just trying to make it to our destination in peace, so it certainly helps to have all that you need for your journey ahead. In hopes of helping you maximize your adventures abroad – I’ve created the ultimate carry-on packing checklist pdf

When I say ultimate carry-on checklist, I mean business. This isn’t your average carry-on travel holiday packing list – this is the mother of all carry-on checklists with 40+ items. Let’s dive in, shall we?

DISCLOSURE: For the sake of transparency, some of the links in our content are affiliate links. This means, I get a commission if you purchase through my links, at no cost to you. Read the full disclosure here.

  1. Toothbrush and Toothpastethere is such a thing as airplane breath, it’s comparable to and sometimes worse than morning breath.
  2. Dental Floss – we typically use dental floss picks, as you don’t need both hands to maneuver the floss.
  3. Blanket Scarf – a scarf that doubles as a blanket, will help keep you warm in more ways than one.
  4. Neck Pillow – once you start packing one of these, you can bid farewell to your neighbor’s shoulder. Gone are the days you leave a puddle of drool on your unsuspecting neighbor. 
  5. Eye mask – even if all of the window shades are open and the lights are on, you’ll be just fine, so long as your eye mask plays its role.
  1. Earplugs drown out the noise around you (including your own snoring) and get some good shuteye.
  2. Headphones – whether you want to listen to music or watch a movie, you can’t go wrong with headphones.
  3. Face Lotion – dry skin is real, especially when you’re up high in the sky. Fill up your favorite face lotion in a small container and lock in that moisture.
  4. Hand Cream – hydrate your hands with a moisture-locking cream.
  5. Deodorant – body odor is not fun, especially on a long haul flight. Always keep a small bottle handy, and you’ll be okay the entire plane ride.
  1. Dry shampoo – no matter the distance, keep your hair feeling, and looking good.
  2. Hair Brush/Comb – no more tangles, knots or bedhead with this handy tool.
  3. Face Mist – the air in the cabin is often dry so let your skin breathe a little and enjoy that extra moisture whenever needed.
  4. Lip Balm – dry lips are a thing of the past. Keep some lip moisture in hand at all times.
  5. Face Towel – give your face a gentle pat down after a wash.
  1. Advil/Tylenolwhether you need to ward off a headache, a cold or just plain old pain relief, don’t leave home without it.
  2. Gravol – for motion sickness and nausea, you’ll need something to help fight the good fight, while in flight. We always pack Gravol in our travel kit – you never know when you’ll need it.
  3. Tums – use this for heartburn, indigestion, or an upset stomach.
  4. Vitamin C – you’re in a plane full of germs, so equip yourself for then and later.
  5. Cough Drops – for the times when vitamin C doesn’t cut it and the last thing you want is for others to assume the worst. Soothe your sore throat and dry cough.

Printable Carry-on Checklist

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    Don’t forget to signup above for your checklist for a holiday to help take the stress out of packing. Between us, if I have to travel with only a carry-on, you bet that I’m going to take all of these items with me, and find a way to squeeze in any purchases abroad. Where there’s a will, there’s indeed a way.

    1. Breath mints/gum – we all need a refresher now and then.
    2. Snacks – airplane food isn’t for all of us. Whether you don’t enjoy the food or you’re hungry after a meal, load up on some snack bars, chocolates, and chips to keep you satisfied.
    3. Collapsible Water Bottle – To avoid having to keep your seat tray down, carry a bottle that can be easily folded away, when not in use. 
    4. Wet wipes – after all that snacking or any accidents – these might save you a trip to the washroom.
    5. Hand Sanitizer and Face Masks – with everything that you come across and touch on the plane, you’re a an easy target for germs and with COVID – you want to be extra careful. So, don’t forget the face mask and hand-sans!
    1. Tissues – the saving grace to a stuffy or runny nose with the bonus of using it to wipe your snack-hungry hands.
    2. USB Charger – these days almost all planes come equipped with USB ports to charge up all your electronics.
    3. Power Bank – most planes have USB ports, but sometimes they don’t work, so ensure you carry a fully charged power bank and never run out of battery power.
    4. Laptop – even if you don’t need to get work done, the safest place to keep this is with you on the plane.
    5. Book or Kindle E-reader – movies and TV shows don’t always cut it. Good reading material will keep you busy and you won’t even notice the time fly.
    1. RFID Blocking Pouch– Keep you valuables safe with a RFID blocking pouch. This ranges from electronics to your jewelry to anything you would not risk losing in a checked bag.
    2. Change of Clothesin case of emergencies or to switch out of the clothes you’ve been sitting in for hours and get a quick start to your travel plans.
    3. Undergarments – here’s to hoping we all like to change our undergarments.
    4. Flip Flops and Shoes – give yourself some options in case you want to give your toes a wiggle or need to change into comfy shoes.
    5. Compression Socks – planes can be cold, and the last thing you want to do is sit there shivering. Be sure to get yourself compression socks to help you mange the blood flow to your legs and reduce swelling.
    1. Flight Ticket always have backups of your tickets on hand, even if you’ve checked in electronically.
    2. Visas depending on where you are traveling, this is a must. Keep paper copies on hand at all times.
    3. Passport – you need your passport for international travel and the last thing you want to do is leave it at home. Secure your passport with a passport holder and keep it with you at all times.
    4. Travel Insurancewe hope you never leave home without insurance. Be sure to to keep a copy on hand in the event of an emergency.
    5. Wallet – guard this as safely as your guard your passport. It’s always good to carry some cash along with your cards in a handy travel wallet. We’re all about convivence!

    If you pack right, carry on bags are like a never-ending bag of tricks. As small as they look, you have the potential to fill up all of that space, with items to entertain you, feed you and provide a healthy dose of self-care on your travels. Whether it’s a short or long haul trek, with this holiday packing list – you’ll have a little bit more control over your flight experience. 

    I hope this holiday packing list comes in handy for all your future travels – even if you have to swap out some things to adapt to your needs!


    an image of a checklist of the ultimate carry on checklist


    Do you have a favorite travel essential we missed or did we do good? Let us know in the comments below.

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