My Carry-On Packing Essentials

Posted on 14. Aug, 2014 by in Europe Travel, Travel Tips

Lately, I realized that whenever I start packing for a trip, I shift into robot mode. I always take the same bag, the same stuff, without exception. The truth is, no matter where in the world I am traveling to, my carry-on packing routine is always the same, because I’ve done it so many times before. And because this is something I get a lot of emails about (packing is, apparently, something a lot of travelers worry about according to my inbox!), I decided to create this piece where I tell you what I bring on the plane.

I’m not saying you should necessarily change your packing habits or worse, fly with carry-on luggage only. I would never advise that, because although I am not high maintenance I am medium maintenance and I like having my stuff with me. So that is not a carry-on only packing guide, but instead a useful, stylish and efficient guide on what to pack to enjoy your plane ride.

carry-on packing

Your Ultimate Carry-On Packing Essentials


1.   A stylish and sturdy bag

Pictured here is my Matt&Nat vegan leather bag that I simply cannot get away from since I purchased it (full price, treat yo’self!) this summer. It’s big enough to contain all my stuff yet small enough that it easily fits under the seat in front of me and leave ample room for my feet. It also has a secret, zipped compartment in the middle which is perfect to keep my valuables and passport safe if my bag gets tossed around.

And because it’s vegan leather, the bag is super light which means I can use it as my day bag as well.

2.   A cozy, giant scarf

Scarves have multiple purposes when it comes to travel: they can be used as a blanket on the bus or the train, as a pillow if the one provided by the airline is too tiny (or if there isn’t any), as an actual scrarf because most planes are freezing, as a tablecloth for a picnic, etc. The truth is, the possibilities are endless. Mine is very similar to the one pictured above and I get compliments every time I take it out of my bag, whether it’s for wearing it or for something else.

3.   Toiletries

These are super important. Like I said, I’m not high maintenance but I like to keep the cute at a minimum whenever I can help it. This is where my dry shampoo comes in - I especially love Batiste, because it smells really  good and adds a lot of volume to my naturally flat hair. I also pack an all-natural deodorant (for when I have to run through the airport because I’m late). And because long flights are usually dehydrating, I pack an eos lipbalm and a light hand cream to avoid cracks and dry skin.

4.   iPad stand

Not all planes are born equal! Even though this is 2014, the age of constant entertainment, some planes are not equipped with personal entertainment systems, especially short, inexpensive flights in Europe. Having a tablet really comes in handy on these occasions, which I why I l ike this tablet stand. Larger than a phone, lighter than a laptop and loaded with movies, tablets have really become indispensable to travelers in the last couple of years.

5.   Travel pillow case, eye mask and blanket set

Do you have any idea how many people used, drooled, ate and did other gross things with the pillow and the blanket you are given on long-haul flights? Hundreds. And no, these fine pieces of linen are not washed after each flight. Do yourself and your immune system a favor by getting this travel sleep set, which is not only stylish but also CLEAN.

6.   Tieks foldable flats

In my opinon, Tieks flats are well worth the somewhat steep price tag. They are super comfortable, they offer good sole support for those long hours of exploration and they come in a variety of stylish finishes. I have had the leopard ones for two years now and despite having worn them on a regular basis, they are still in perfect condition. Definitely worth the expense; it’s always better to pay for something of such high quality than to buy 72 pairs of cheap ballerinas that make your feet smell weird.

7.   Travel-related books

Have a look at all the books I love in my travel shop for inspiration! It’s one of my favorite travel rituals: reading a travel-related novel while I’m on the plane. It energizes me and makes me forget that I’m having a horrible time on a flying bus with 600 other people. And because carry-on luggage is now subject to weight limitations you could also gets these books on your iPad or your Kindle for even less weight!

8.   iPad case

Kate Spade is one of my favorite brands and this Get Out Of Town iPad case is just perfection. Stylish, useful and travel-related are three adjectives  that I like to see together.

9.   Compression socks

These socks are not stylish, they’re not cheap and they’re not pretty, but compression socks could prevent you from developing blood cloths on long haul flights, so I guess they are rather handy to have around.

10.   Noise-canceling headphones

If there one thing in all of this list that is worth splurging on, it’s these noise-canceling headphones. It not only cancels the screams of tired infants, it also tampers the noise of the plane itself. They’re life-savers for red-eye flights!

* Side note: I always pack an extra pair or two of underwear, a travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste as well as an extra sweater, just in case my luggage gets lost in transit. That way I can still keep my personal hygiene to a minimum until I can go and buy whatever I need until my suitcase arrives. But I didn’t think anyone would want to see my underwear in the photo above, so I’m just mentioning it here.

** Disclaimer: some of the links are affiliates, which means I get a small commission from them to cover the costs of running this blog. But again, these are all products that I have used, tested and genuinely love.

What are YOUR carry-on packing essentials? Is there anything on the list you wouldn’t pack, or things that are missing and you wouldn’t think of traveling without?


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4 Responses to “My Carry-On Packing Essentials”

  1. julie Prafke

    24. Nov, 2014

    I pack antibacterial wipes to wipe down the seat belt, tray table, etc. I also pack the ones to clean my hands periodically through the long flight and after I’ve touched railings, doors, and God forbid, gone to the restroom on the plane.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Sable

    10. Jan, 2015

    Hi Marie,
    I am absolutely appreciating your blog. I am curious…I am reading into your travel lists before my summer travels…for a 2 month trip to Europe, do you feel a carry-on and a checked bag is plenty? Any more would be ridiculous right?

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      12. Jan, 2015

      Hello Sable! Yes two bags will be plenty. Any more would cost you a fortune to transport! Keep in mind that when you travel for two months you are bound to do laundry at some point. Most hostels have laundry facilities and hotels will be happy to do it for you for a fee. There’s no need to pack your entire wardrobe ;-) Especially if you stay in climates that are relatively similar! Pack a couple of tops, dresses and bottoms and enough underwear to last you two weeks. That way you’ll only have to do laundry eight times in two months!

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