What’s In My Carry On Bag.

What's In My Carry On Bag

This is an older post but every time I do a Q&A I get asked what’s in my carry-on so I thought it would be a great opportunity to update the post with fresh links and a few little tweaks and additions.

Let’s talk about carry on baggage! You might know this but I rarely, rarely check my bag. I hate wasting time and I hate waiting for my bag especially after a long flight. My luggage got lost in Europe a few years ago so I’m always terrified of that happening again – it took the airline more than two days to get me my things back, which was awful! I like to think I have gotten things down to a science but I’m always adding to my little carry-on kit. The more streamlined, the better.

Carry On Luggage

If I’m not checking my bag it’s always my little AWAY suitcase. I have the smaller carry-on as it’s international compliant. (The bigger carry-on will need to be checked on smaller domestic flights + flights to Europe). You can read my full AWAY luggage review but I just love love love their bags. I had to take the battery out (a lot of airlines no longer allow it which is a huge bummer!!!) but I still really love mine.  For my personal item, I use my AWAY Everywhere bag. The beautiful tan leather one I have is no longer available (the saddest!) but they have some great options here. The Cuyana leather zip tote is another great option as a personal item.

What is Not Allowed in Your Carry On?

This stuff is probably a given for mostly everyone but just a little refresher for you! No liquids over 100ml, and nothing hazardous or sharp. I have had (my nice Tweezerman!) tweezers taken from me so I’ve learned the hard way – either I leave them home or pack them in my checked baggage. I’m that idiot who leaves her water bottle in her carry-on and gets flagged… I’m trying to be better! Another thing that can get flagged depending on where you are traveling is portable batteries for your phone (like a Mophie). I haven’t seen these banned in the US but in Asia they are not allowed.

What’s in My Carry On Bag

Noise cancelling headphones //

These are a must. I always bring mine with me. I find that my Apple Airpods Pro Airphones (and you can read my Apple Airpods review here – LOVE them) do the job just fine on shorter flights etc but I also really love my Beats Headhones (I have the pale pink pair!) for longer trips – especially if there are crying babies on my flight! You could bring ear plugs to help you sleep if it’s an overnight flight, but I find them to be really uncomfortable.

Silk Eye Mask //

I LOVE my Slip eye mask. I have tried so many eye masks but Slip’s are my all time favorite – nothing else measures up. And for long flights, especially international flights, there is nothing better. Sometimes they’ll give you one on the plane but they’re never as nice. I sleep with an eye mask every night at home as well so using it on the plane is also sort of comforting, like being at home. Eye masks are the best – the perfect way to add a little luxury to your flight or bedtime routine!

Essential Oils //

I love my this works deep sleep rollerball oil for a long flight. I also love Origins Peace of Mind (sadly discontinued) when I’m feeling stressed/need to really unwind. Both really help you relax!

A Lightweight Cashmere Scarf //

I am never, ever without a soft cashmere scarf. Ew do I sound totally pretentious? Whatever, it doesn’t have to be cashmere (heck, those $5 pashminas they sell on the street will work too) but of course, cashmere is really really nice. I am always cold so it comes in handy, can double as a blanket, looks chic, etc. I am never without mine. Something like this one!

Probiotics //

My old nutritionist got me into taking probiotics whenever I fly as I used to get so, so bloated from flying. Now I always travel with them and definitely notice a big difference. I take two of these probiotics every night before bed but I also will pop two before I fly. I am not sure why but I’m telling you, this may be one of my biggest travel hacks – it makes such a difference. And I also love Hilma’s Upset Stomach Relief.

Two Days Worth of Clothes //

Oh gosh, I learned my lesson when my luggage got lost in Europe  a few years back!!! At the very least, if you don’t have a ton of room, pack an extra few pairs of clean underwear. You probably won’t need them but if you do, you’ll be really glad you packed them. I also think it’s one of those things where if you pack them, you won’t need them but if you don’t, you will. Superstition I guess.

Books! //

I always bring books with me. On my trip to Asia I brought one book in my carry-on and put four more books in my checked luggage. I know,  I should get a kindle for travel but I just can’t do it. Honestly, I like my books… and I always give them to the hotel staff when I’m done with them which frees up room in my suitcase for the way home.

Clear Pouch //

Different airports have different guidelines but I have learned to just keep all my beauty products / liquids (under 100ml!) in a clear pouch (I love my Truffle Clarity Pouch) because it’s really annoying to have to take out all your liquids and hastily put them into the airport’s clear bag if their security protocol is more strict.

Beauty Products //

I try to travel light but I always bring my beloved Dr. Bader Cream (full review here), a hydrating mask (I love Summer Fridays’ Jet Lag Mask – review here), the Caudalie beauty elixir (smells so good I spritz this on BEFORE applying the mask, and a super hydrating lip balm (I LOVE Farmacy’s Lip Bloom as it’s so hydrating). My lips get so chapped on the plane, anyone else? As a rule I don’t fly with makeup on my face (unless it’s a two or three hour flight) so I’ll bring a few things to help me feel pretty when we land. Charlotte Tilbury’s lipstick in “Pillowtalk” (it’s the perfect pinky nude – universally flattering!), some brow gel, and my favorite mascara. Just the easy, minimal things.

Deodorant + Toothbrush & Toothpaste //

As someone who has had their luggage lost, take it from me: you just don’t want to be caught without either of these things… especially if like me, you insist on only using natural deodorant – it’s hard to find in a foreign country!!! I love my Native deodorant). That and a toothbrush. I always keep both of these things in my carry-on, along with a small tube of toothpaste.

Cashmere Socks //

Really, any soft fluffy socks will do but I have these cashmere socks from The White Company and I love love love them. So soft and luxurious. Adore that they are called “bed socks.”

Snacks //

Always travel with snacks! There is nothing worse than being stranded somewhere or on a long layover and hangry. Of course most airports have snacks but if you are traveling internationally it can be a huge mixed bag. I am a big fan of Lara bars and always bring at least two or three in my carry-on. The peanut butter cookie one is my favorite but I also love the chocolate chip cookie dough. So good and also good for you!

Hand Sanitizer //

(Duh) I always travel with hand sanitizer and this Byredo one is ultra chic. Or of course, the Megababe one!

Laptop //

(Another Duh!) I’m always working! Even if I’m not connected to the Internet I keep it with me to write down details of the trip, etc. etc. But also, movies.

iPhone Charger //

Another given.

Neck Pillow //

I have a bad back and this neck pillow really helps. There is nothing worse than ruining your vacation because you fell asleep on the plane and messed up your neck. I don’t take it on shorter flights but for a longer flight it’s the best!

An extra mask //

This is a new one this year, ha ha. I really like these Athleta face masks for traveling. Lightweight and very breathable.

What’s in your carry on bag!? Did I miss anything?


Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment


  1. I love AWAY’s suitcases! I wish I had one myself, but my current one isn’t broken yet so… (and fingers crossed it won’t break, haha, since a suitcase is expensive!) Like you, I always have to bring a book with me. So essential for travelling! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    6.26.18 Reply
  2. Betsie:

    This is such a helpful and comprehensive guide! Question, what probiotic brand to you take? I have read so much buzz about manufacturers not storing them at right temperatures to be effective.

    So agree about the Cuyana tote. I have the zip top tote too and love it, but would love it even more if it was larger and the straps were tad longer.

    6.26.18 Reply
    • Your Organic Life:

      If your probiotic is that sensitive to temperature, it’s ineffective anyway. If it can’t survive room temperature it will never survive your body temperature as it moves through your digestive tract.

      6.26.18 Reply
      • Yes, I know! Mine comes in two variations – I get the one that doesn’t need to be stored in the fridge.

        6.27.18 Reply
    • I linked to the brand in the post! Let me know if you have any issues with the link. 🙂 xo

      6.27.18 Reply
  3. jenn:

    Such a great list, Grace! What do you use as a travel camera? I love bringing my fancy SLR with me, but it’s so dang heavy and takes up precious room.

    6.26.18 Reply
    • I put it in my amaazon shop – amazon.com/shop/graceatwood. I bought it 3 years ago and actually stopped using my SLR – the photo quality is just as good!

      6.27.18 Reply
  4. Tracey:

    Highly recommend checking out the Dagne Dover Landon Caryall as your next carry-on. I purchased it for work/gym but have found it’s an amazing carry on companion and while I don’t have either of your current bags, I’m betting it’s about 30-40% larger 🙂

    6.26.18 Reply
  5. Sari:

    I love my away luggage too! They actually will send you a pre paid shipping bag/label and they will repair your current luggage and make the battery easily ejectable! This way you can use the battery function while waiting for your flight but then you can pop it out and put it in your carry on bag! Super easy and it only took a week or so for the whole thing to get done! Xoxo

    6.26.18 Reply
  6. Taylor:

    Another travel hack are compression socks — they are a game changer for long haul flights. Sockwell makes cute ones that don’t like the ones for grandmas you see at the drugstore. They’ll keep your circulation going and you’ll be able to fit into your shoes post flight.

    6.26.18 Reply
    • MMB:

      I brought compression socks for both my husband and I for our flight to Ireland. Neither of us had worn them before and agree that they are a game changer. I got them from http://www.comradsocks.com.

      6.26.18 Reply
      • I have heard such good things about compression socks – I need to order a pair; thank you for the suggestion!

        6.27.18 Reply
    • YES! I need to get a pair. Thanks for the reminder!!!

      6.27.18 Reply
  7. You should totally look into the Away Everywhere bag as an option for your personal item. It doesn’t look to be larger that the Cuyana, but it’s definitely wider, which might allow for more usable space. Plus, it has pockets galore and space for a Macbook Pro (13″). My favorite feature is the pass-through flap on the backside which lets you secure it to the handles of your carry-on. Total game changer! Enjoy the rest of your flight!

    6.26.18 Reply
  8. Cait:

    What is your favorite scent of the deo? Interested in ordering!

    6.26.18 Reply
  9. Lora:

    The link for the cashmere socks opens to a Trip Advisor page for The Thai Experience, lol.

    6.26.18 Reply
  10. Emily C:

    Snacks are so important! I usually don’t bring that much because I don’t like spending $$$$ in airports and I try not to eat too much on flights…However, a recent flight back from Europe had to make an emergency medical landing for a sick passenger and I was reminded that a 6 hour flight can turn into a 12 hour flight and it’s really important to have some snacks on deck.

    6.26.18 Reply
    • I’ve had this happen too!!! The worst — or it makes you make bad snacking decisions (hello Doritos on JetBLue!)

      6.27.18 Reply
  11. Kathryn Elias:

    This is the most helpful blog post! I have been wanting a list/article like this recently because I’ve been traveling so much for work and pleasure.

    6.26.18 Reply
  12. Cait:

    What scent is your favorite in the deo? I am interested in trying, but find that sometimes natural deo comes in odd scents! (Also, sorry if this posts twice. Tried to post earlier but I don’t see it below).


    6.26.18 Reply
  13. Rebecca:

    In addition to hand sanitizer, a trick I learned from Jess Kirby is to bring a travel sized pack of sanitizing wipes in my carry on too. Once I reach my seat, I wipe down every possible surface!

    6.26.18 Reply
  14. Alaina:

    Love this! Thanks for sharing. 🙂 I do have a related question: when you do pack ONLY in a carry-on, how do you fit ALL of your toiletries into a single quart-sized clear bag? Do you just not bring some items? I don’t consider myself to be high maintenance, but I do have a skincare and makeup routine I like to maintain while travelling. I have wanted to explore packing only in a carry-on for short trips, but I want to bring more liquids total than TSA will allow. *sigh* Also, one tip my friend uses: using gallon-sized plastic bags to “vacuum pack” clothes so you can fit more!

    6.26.18 Reply
    • I am sort of insane about this. I save all of my travel size products for trips for this very purpose (I live for Space NK’s GWP for this reason) and pack only tiny travel sized things. It means leaving some of my most favorite products home but it’s worth it.

      6.27.18 Reply
  15. Such a great post! I pack the same way!

    The Champagne Edit

    6.26.18 Reply
  16. Angelina:

    Wow very helpful thank you, I Always tend to over pack, one thing I always pack a lest one plastic bag for my dirty clothes on the way back .

    6.26.18 Reply
  17. This is such a good guide! I recently came back from a trip with 13 flights and I wish I had this guide earlier! Definitely referring to this post for my next travels!

    6.26.18 Reply
  18. Alison:

    I have an iPad Mini in a case that has a little keyboard and for most trips and I LOVE it — this eliminates my need for a computer and physical books. I love the feel of real books too and that’s my preference when I’m reading at home, but ebooks were just made for travel. Love having a whole library to choose from, especially if I pick something that turns out to be a dud or if I blow through my initial choices quickly. And then I can do all of my movie-watching, web-browsing, etc. on the same device (I like having a real keyboard for email).

    This is a good list, and it reminds me that I should get better headphones for traveling. I mostly just use my earbuds but I live in Orlando and every plane in or out is full of screaming babies…or kids…sometimes adults 😉

    6.26.18 Reply
    • That’s so smart! I wish I could read on an iPad – I used to have the mini and I just couldn’t read on it!!!!

      And OMG yes – nothing worse than screaming adults!!

      6.27.18 Reply
  19. LaVonne Nelson:

    Thanks for sharing. I will be travelling to UK in a week. This has been helpful. I have been learning from other savvy travellers like yourself.

    6.26.18 Reply
  20. Amie Brown:

    Such a great post!! Thank you so as I needed inspiration ( and sources) of a lot of what you posted as I prepare for my families 2 week Asian adventure!

    Question, what did you or do you recommend for a wallet to hold passport and money/credit cards??

    Thank you!

    6.27.18 Reply
    • I actually don’t have anything special – I keep my passport loose and use a Cuyana wallet. Sorry!!

      6.27.18 Reply
      • Amie:

        Thank you!

        6.28.18 Reply
  21. Lauren:

    I have the bigger carry on from Away and have carried it on both domestic and international flights a bunch of times. They never make me check it! Had to remove the battery on a recent flight though which is a bummer…

    6.27.18 Reply
    • Yeah it will be okay on a lot of flights but it will be rejected on smaller planes in the US (I go to Charleston a lot and the planes are sometimes small and it won’t fit in the bin) and depending on the carrier many flights to Europe will also reject.

      To me it’s better safe than sorry, I only have one carry-on so I wanted the one that will be universally accepted.

      6.27.18 Reply
  22. Maggie:

    I’m starting to gear up for my first trip overseas (France/Denmark/Sweden in Oct) & feel like I “need” to buy new everything! The Guyana tote that you linked to looks HUGE on the model in the photos on the website. Is it just because she’s small enough to fit in my pocket? I see that the dimensions are listed on the website, so I could always measure a purse I already have to get a feel, I just wanted some reassurance that it’s not excessively large (which I assume it’s not, since you want one that’s larger).

    Besides the Summer Fridays’ Jet Lag Mask, do you have any other recommendations in a similar price range for masks to do on planes that you don’t have to wash off/rinse/remove/etc?

    6.27.18 Reply
    • Ooh that is so exciting! I think maybe the model on Cuyana is just small? Here are two posts where I’m carrying it:


      And maybe I am misunderstanding the question but you don’t have to wash the Summer Fridays mask off! You can tissue it off or just leave it on which is what I do. The Summer Fridays is the best priced tissue off mask I’ve found – everything else I’ve tried and loved (i.e. Sisley is really expensive!) Here’s info on the Sisley one which is epic but $$$: https://thestripe.com/2017/03/sisley-black-rose-cream-mask-review-thisworks-stress-check-face-oil-becca-shimmering-skin-perfector-opal/

      6.28.18 Reply
      • Maggie:

        Thanks for linking to the prior posts, they help put the size of the bag in perspective.

        I was just curious if you had any recommendations for products similar to the Jet Lag mask that are still at a reasonable price point. I searched for overnight masks on your blog and found your review of the Keil’s overnight mask. Is that also the kind of mask you’d consider doing on a flight?

        6.28.18 Reply
        • I probably wouldn’t – it’s an overnight mask and better for sleeping… it’s amazing but its key benefit is firing vs. hydration… I guess it would/could work but it’s just not creamy the way that Summer Fridays or Sisley are.

          6.29.18 Reply
          • Maggie:


  23. Anne-Stuart:

    For your personal item I HIGHLY recommend the Lo and Sons Catalina.It fits over the handle of your suitcase and is SO spacious. I took a 6 day trip to Belize and brought my AWAY carry on (same as yours) and this bag and had no problem. I also love that bottom of the bag is totally separate. I put my travel backpack in there, but also works for other purses and shoes.


    6.29.18 Reply
  24. Tammy:

    Tweezers are allowed. I have learned to bookmark the TSA webpage as often the employees don’t know all the rules. I have taken mine everything as well as disposable razors.

    8.5.18 Reply
    • That is so smart!!! I’ve had more pairs of tweezers taken from me than I’d like to admit.

      8.6.18 Reply
  25. Annette:

    I also bring a little chocolate, Motrin and a pen.

    9.12.18 Reply
  26. Ellen:

    Hi Grace!

    Did you ever buy a bag to replace your Cuyana bag that was more spacious? I’d love to know which one you picked up, if so!

    1.9.19 Reply
    • Not yet!!!! I still haven’t found anything I like enough to replace it. Though, I haven’t been traveling as much so it’s been less of an urgent priority!

      1.9.19 Reply
  27. Sharon Lee:

    Hi Grace, this is so spot on. Also love the “beauty section”. Intrigued to try the Summer Friday’s mask. I usually apply the SK-II sheet mask on long-haul flights. Love it.

    3.18.19 Reply
  28. mary:

    This makes me excited/nervous about air traveling again. I always bring chamomile and green teabags with me and ask for hot water on the flight. Airlines don’t always have much tea selection beyond Lipton, so it’s good to be prepared. It helps relax me.

    7.14.21 Reply
    • Anne:

      LOVE this idea!

      11.27.21 Reply
  29. Anne:

    Revisiting this in Nov 2021 as I prep for my first plane trip in 2 years What a great list! Very thorough. Thank you!

    11.27.21 Reply