Even for people who love traveling, packing is often something to be dreaded; trying to fit everything into small bags, worrying about what you will need, what you might need, what you are going to forget, until the moment that you are in the air and can’t do anything about it… and of course, if something is forgotten, that means shelling out way too much to find a replacement in an airport, or wasting time wandering around your destination trying to find what you need. Thankfully, even the perennially disorganized can be helped out by packing lists (and there are plenty of these online, or even physical notepads of lists that frequent travelers can use) - and we’ve got one for all the women out there who always manage to forget something.
From making your flight more comfortable to arriving at your destination feeling (and looking) fresh as a daisy, to preparing for those worst case scenarios, these are all the things that you should always remember to pack in your carry-on… and a few things that many women pack, but that are really just taking up space and weighing you down.
22 Don't Forget: Empty Water Bottle
These days, you can’t bring your own water through airport security, but that doesn’t mean that you have to get dehydrated or pay ridiculous prices for bottled water at the airport. Just bring an empty water bottle in your carry-on, and fill it at the water fountain once you are through security. Steel water bottles are also better for the environment (and for your health, compared to reusing plastic single-use bottles), and can be hung from your bag with a metal carabiner or just carried in your hand, so they don’t take up precious space.
21 Don't Forget: Lotion And Lip Balm
Airports and airplanes can wreak havoc on dry skin, and dry out other skin types, thanks to the air conditioning and recycled cabin air. Instead of arriving at the end of a long flight with dry, flaky skin and chapped lips, remember to put a small tube of hand/face cream and a chapstick in your carry-on, so that you can keep your skin and delicate lips hydrated throughout the flight. Airports are also often dirty, and if that means washing your hands more often, keep them from drying out and cracking by applying lotion while you travel. Just make sure the tube is small enough to pass through security!
20 Don't Forget: Spare Sanitary Products
Whether you use pads, tampons, a cup or period pants, it’s always a good idea to pack some extra sanitary products in your carry-on. Even if you aren’t expecting to need them, long-haul travel can cause changes to more than just your sleep cycle with the dreaded jet lag, it may also cause your cycle to change slightly - and that is something you definitely want to be prepared for! Keep something in your carry-on (or even your handbag) just in case… or just in case you’ve forgotten to plan out this particular aspect of a longer trip.
19 Don't Forget: Prescription Meds
It can be tempting to put prescriptions into checked baggage if you don’t need to take them while you are in transit, but it’s a much better idea to keep these in your carry-on. Flight delays and canceled flights might mean you are stuck in the airport for much longer than expected, without your checked bags, and that could lead to a missed dose. Even worse, if your checked bags are lost, it can be extremely difficult to get a doctor in a foreign country to prescribe what you need on short notice (and the cost of visiting a doctor isn’t always cheap).
18 Don't Forget: Baby Wipes
Even if you aren’t traveling with a child, a small pack of baby wipes is always a good idea to have with you. From dealing with minor spills or sticky surfaces on the airplane (ew), to fixing your makeup or even taking it off while in the air so that you can re-do it on landing and slather your skin in moisturizer in the meantime, baby wipes are incredibly useful. Full size packs are a little big for a carry-on (especially if you may not need to use them) but travel sized packs are cheap and ideal to slip into a bag pocket.
17 Don't Forget: Snacks
Who doesn’t love snacks? It’s usually possible to grab something to eat at the airport, but these aren’t always the healthiest (or cheapest) options - and there may be times where delays, long lines at security, or other issues mean that there’s no time to buy something before boarding. Not all airlines serve food (depending on flight length), and depending on the time of your flight, airport options might not even be open. Pack something light and dry (like coconut jerky, trail mix, or a protein bar) that will see you through flights and delays without getting hangry.
16 Don't Forget: Advil And Gum
Between the stress of travel, time changes, and dehydration, it’s easy to get a headache while traveling - and no one wants to deal with that while in the air. Many people assume that the airline will be able to provide painkillers, but many will not, so bring a few of your own. Bring some gum, too, to chew on during take-off and landing and prevent painful and annoying ear issues thanks to the pressure changes. Be aware of the regulations for the country you are traveling to, though. Some countries do not allow certain painkillers to be brought in, and Singapore famously will not allow gum.
15 Don't Forget: Light Layers
Not only does wearing layers mean fitting fewer clothes into your luggage, but packing a couple of extra layers makes a big difference when it comes to comfort while traveling. Bring a couple of different tops and thinner sweaters that you can pile on top of each other, as the weather might be very different from your home to your destination, and both airport terminals and airplanes are often uncomfortably air conditioned. Combine that with the possibility of working up a sweat dashing through the terminal, and being able to adjust your clothing to your temperature is going to keep you calm, cool, and comfortable.
14 Don't Forget: Electronic Chargers
Despite the fact that we use these every day, they are often something that is easily forgotten - or unthinkingly packed into the checked baggage. Make sure your phone charger is in your carry-on so that you don’t have to worry about running out of battery and not being able to call an Uber or look up the address of where you are staying on arrival. And while most airports have available outlets to charge phones (as do many airlines nowadays), for very long journeys, think about packing an external battery pack, so you don’t need to find somewhere to plug in.
13 Don't Forget: Paper Copies Of Documents
Although it can be easy to just assume that you can rely on digital copies of the things you need, make sure to print or photocopy important documents and bring them along in your carry-on. A few sheets of paper won’t make a difference to space or weight, and you may need them at the border when you get to your destination. In addition, if you do end up forgetting your charger, having paper copies of your itinerary, the address of where you are staying, and anything else you need guarantees that you won’t be stranded if your phone dies.
12 Don't Forget: Change Of Clothes
Although we’d all like to hope that our flights will be hassle-free, it’s best to plan for the worst - and that means bringing a light change of clothes in your carry-on. Of course, if you are only bringing a carry-on, you’ll have plenty of alternative outfits available, but if you are checking a bag, make sure to put at least one spare outfit in the carry-on in case your luggage is lost or something gets spilled on you… or, worst case scenario, someone sitting near you gets air sick! There’s no way you would want to wear those clothes for any longer than absolutely necessary…
11 Don't Forget: Hair Elastic
Obviously, this only applies to those women who have enough hair to use an elastic… but for everyone with longer hair, don’t forget to add a hair tie (or six) to your carry-on bag. Perfectly styled hair might look great in those Instagram photos of you on your way to another adventure, but when it comes to comfort (and not getting long hair caught in the shoulder straps of bags), being able to throw it up in a messy bun is a relief. And, because these are so small, they don’t take up any valuable space in your bag.
10 Don't Forget: Eyemask and Ear Plugs
When it comes to longer flights, it’s important to be able to get some sleep. Not only is beauty rest important no matter where you are, but when trying to get the jump on jet lag, you want everything possible to make falling asleep on the plane easy. Most people will remember a travel pillow, but also bring an eyemask, to block out the bright lights of the entertainment screens, and earplugs. The softest neck pillow in the world won’t work if you are seated next to a loud talker or a screaming baby!
9 Don't Forget: Valuables And Jewelry
While no one wants to plan to lose their luggage - these things happen. Most of the time, it’s just a matter of recovering the wayward bag a few days later, but sometimes, that checked bag is gone for good. If that’s the case, you don’t want to risk anything valuable or irreplaceable in it, so make sure that anything sentimental, expensive jewelry, and lucky charms are all carried in the bag that you are going to bring on the plane with you, just in case.
8 Don't Forget: Tissues
Like baby wipes, a small pack of tissues can be useful for all kinds of things. Obviously, if the recycled air of the plane has you sneezing, tissues are helpful for dealing with the sniffles, but they can be used for a lot more than that. Airports in some countries don’t provide toilet paper, so you’ll want to have something in your purse just in case, and tissues can also help deal with minor spills or wet spots on your seat back tray. Grab a travel sized pack and pop it in your carry-on with those baby wipes and extra hair ties.
7 Could Be Left Behind: Hair Styling Tools
It can be tempting to bring your hairdryer, straighteners or curlers - after all, you want to look great when you land! But these are bulky and often need adapters, and most hotels will provide a hairdryer at the very least. Instead of wasting space in your carry-on, find a style that suits you and doesn’t need heat to work and wear that on the plane, and then embrace that holiday beach hair at your destination. Consider packing a mini product like ‘Surf Spray’ instead to save space and make sure you still look fantastic.
6 Could Be Left Behind: Full Size Perfumes
Most perfume bottles are small enough to get through liquid limits at airport security, but that doesn’t mean you should bring them. The glass can get broken easily, and the bottles are often oddly shaped and heavy - not what you want for a carry-on bag. Instead, bring a small sample bottle - but don’t wear it on the plane. In a confined space, try and wear as few scents as possible to avoid annoying other passengers. You might love your scent, but when crammed in with dozens of other scents, it just becomes headache-inducing.
5 Could Be Left Behind: Shower Gel/Soap
Rather than bringing a miniature version of absolutely every toiletry you use, skip the ones that are provided by most hotels for free. Soap, shower gel and shampoo are usually provided, although hair conditioner is a little bit rarer. If you are worried, call the hotel and ask about which products are complimentary, and then ditch anything that you’ll find in your hotel shower, unless you really need a specific product and can’t trust the complimentary versions due to allergies. Not only will this save space in your carry-on, but it will limit the chances of a shampoo explosion in mid-air!
4 Could Be Left Behind: Hand Sanitizer
There’s no denying that airports aren’t always the cleanest, especially with so many people passing through every day, but don’t be tempted by hand sanitizers. Washing your hands and using wipes is more than sufficient to keep you clean, and an over-reliance on alcohol based sanitizers can lead to antibiotic resistance - yikes! In addition, sanitizers are extremely drying on the skin, and aren’t actually more effective than plain old soap and water, and moisturize your hands after washing. Ditch that little bottle, and if you are truly concerned about touching things, consider some retro cotton gloves instead.
3 Could Be Left Behind: Metal Nail Files
Although nail files are definitely a useful item to have in your carry-on to deal with any snags or catches from lugging your bags around the airport, make sure you leave the metal ones at home. These are often considered to be a dangerous item by airport security, and you may be required to give yours up for safety reasons. Instead of a sharp metal file, just bring a simple emery board with you - it will do the job just as well, and not trigger any security warnings or be considered a potential weapon.
2 Could Be Left Behind: Pill Organizer
Although it’s important to bring your prescription medication in your carry-on, don’t think that transferring pills into a smaller organizer is the best idea. It may save space in your carry-on, compared to pill bottles, but airport security may well be (rightly) suspicious of pills kept in an unmarked plastic box. It’s important to carry prescriptions in their correct bottles, and to make sure that those bottles have the same name on them as the one in your passport, so that you can be sure that the medications you need won’t be confiscated as suspicious.
1 Could Be Left Behind: Nail Polish
Although small bottles of nail polish are usually acceptable when it comes to security rules for carry-on, there’s no need to take this on the plane. If you know that you will want to re-paint your nails while on vacation, just pop it in your checked baggage. If you are only taking a carry-on, the polish can come too… just don’t take it out and start painting your nails in the terminal or (even worse) on board the plane. The smell of the polish is not something you want to inflict on other travelers in a confined space!